Improving water management at Zeavola – an interview
Koh Phi Phi Island in Thailand is known for the beautiful underwater world surrounding it. With its colorful coral reefs and tropical fish, it is a paradise for divers. As overwhelming as the surrounding sea may be, as scarce drinking water can become on an island such as this one. Being Koh Phi Phi’s leading luxury boutique dive resort as well as an enterprise dedicated to environmental protection, Zeavola Resort does not only appreciate water as a valuable resource, but is also committed to a responsible water management in the hotel routine. Even though there are already a lot of sustainable initiatives to this effect, of course there is always room for improvement. In an interview, Zeavola’s general manager Florian Hallermann told us what the Zeavola Resort is doing to constantly improve its water management.
On an island in particular, water is a valuable resource. What is the Zeavola Resort doing to handle it in a responsible way?
Florian Hallermann: The Zeavola Resort is proud to have a closed water system. We take our water from one of the four deep wells. It is cleaned and partly desalinated by means of reverse osmosis to provide up to 75,000 liters of fresh water per day for hotel guests, staff and facilities.
In addition, we collect rainwater: the staff houses are equipped with roof gutters that are linked with a pipe system. With a good tropical downpour it is possible to collect 10.000 to 18.000 liters within 2 hours.
To provide a closed water system, the waste water is collected and intensely cleaned. The treated water is finally held in a pond to be used for the irrigation of the jungle garden. This way, the resort is completely independent from public water supply and, more importantly, no waste water finds its way into the sea.
Are there any particular challenges and how do you deal with them?
Florian Hallermann: The processed waste water is regularly tested and certified as clean, but due to the strong sun the growth of algae is almost unstoppable. After 12 years of hotel operation, the Algae level in the pond was so high that the ecosystem was in danger of collapsing.
To clear the bottom of the pond from the natural mud, which accumulates due to the dying algae, we installed an algae mud separation system. This very simple filter system pumps water and mud through some old rice bags and collects the mud which is mixed with the biodegradable materials from the jungle garden. The resulting mixture is high in Nitrogene, so we use it to further fertilize the jungle.
Another technical solution to improve the pond’s water quality is the Koi pond filter system you build in recently. What is that and how does it work?
Florian Hallermann: The purpose of this 24 hour system is to bring the pond water quality to a level that allows the keeping of sturdy fish. With a lot of effort the hotel team built it to process 1000 cubic meter of water per day. This 4 chamber system is filtering all suspended particles as well as the algae out. Besides brushes and mats the filter system contains a chamber with UV lights that kills the still remaining algae before the water is returned to the pond. Due to the size of the pond, the first improvements are expected 2–3 months after it has been put in operation. To turn the pond into a healthy habitat for sturdy fish, we also installed two new Siemens oxygen pumps. In the future, we are going to use the pond for fishing activities of the staff.
Are there any other recent improvements regarding water management and sustainability?
Florian Hallermann: Recently, we installed a secondary laundry filter system to filter laundry water to a point that it can be reused in the laundry. It allows the hotel to safe 4.000 liters of water per day, summing up to 1.460.000 liters of water per year. This reduction in water consumption helps to reduce the work hours of the reverse osmosis plant, that is used to clean the water from the wells, and results in reduced electricity expenses of about 360 kilowatt hours per year.
For 2018, we are planning several further improvements regarding sustainability. The Zeavola Resort is continuing its commitment to protect the local environment returning used, cleaned water to nature, so that guests and staff alike can use it once again.