This is a Smart Water Fund Project

Rainwater Harvesting and Re-use at the Penguin Parade

Project Date: 31 December 2007
Project Status: Complete
Research Organisation: Phillip Island Nature Park
Project Number: 32R - 3033

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The Challenge

The Penguin Parade at Phillip Island Nature Parks is a world-famous attraction for both Victorian and Australia. Approximately 670,000 local and international visitors experience the penguin parade every year.

Having such a large number of visitors in a regional coastal area presents a challenge for the local environment, with toilet use in Phillip Island Nature Parks using valuable drinking water from the Candowie Reservioir, which in 2006 fell to just 4 per cent.

With the local reservoir at risk of running dry, the Penguin Parade faced the task of reducing its demand on the local drinking water supply for uses other than drinking and educating visitors on this environmental challenge.

The Project

Having identified that the visitor toilets were a major source of drinking water use, the Phillip Island Nature Parks Board of Management undertook a project to reduce their dependency on the local reservoir.

Using the Smart Water Fund grant, the project involved the installation of a water harvesting and recycling system featuring a 180,000 litre rainwater tank to capture rainwater from the Visitor Centre roof and re-use it for toilet flushing, saving approximately three million litres of water per year.

Toilets across the park were replaced with 4 star 4.5/3 litre dual flush toilets to reduce the amount of water needed for the day to day running of the park. Additional water saving measures included the installation of four waterless composting toilets around the beach car parks and the installation of waterless urinals. Outside showers in the beach areas were also turned off to save water.

In addition, a rainwater harvesting system that included a 20,000 litre tank was installed under the carpark at Nobbies Centre, a marine park that also forms part of the Phillip Island Nature Parks.

Where possible, park staff were educated to make use of the harvested rainwater stores, such as using tank water for weed spraying and watering.

Strong communication activities, such as featuring the project in the Park's tours helped push the water saving message to visitors.

The Outcome

Lessons Learnt

Apart from implementing a water recycling strategy, the project aimed to use its unique position as a world-famous tourist attraction to share its water-saving message.

The visible water tanks to store the collected rainwater were complemented with signage at the Visitor Centre. A plasma screen is regularly updated to highlight the attraction's water savings.

"Regular updates are important," said Environment Manager Richard Dakin. "They highlight to our visitors that the project is getting results."

Changes were made to tours within the Nature Park to showcase the project and educate visitors and the local community.

"Visitors taking our tours are amazed at how dire our water situation was prior to this project."

The website www.penguins.org.au now includes information on the project. Signs displaying the project's achievements have also been placed on the back of toilet doors, raising awareness of the water-saving message at the source of the water use.

The Benefits

  • The project has highlighted that water-saving measures can help the tourism industry reduce the impact of visitors on the local ecosystem.
  • Working with a relatively captive audience, the project has demonstrated the benefit for the wider community that eco-tourism sites can derive through environmental education and communication campaigns.
  • The project provides benefits to Australian visitors, through raising the level of water-saving awareness and education. It also helps raise Australia's profile on an international scale by highlighting water saving innovation to overseas visitors

For all Smart Water Fund Project enquiries please contact swfinfo@melbournewater.com.au

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