Drought hits our B&Bs
ASKING a paying guest to keep their shower to four minutes is a task most Granite Belt accommodation providers would balk at.
But with "extreme level” water restrictions in place throughout the Southern Downs Regional Council area, they've no choice but to broach the issue.
Diamondvale Lodge owner Stephen Michalski said he talks to guests about water saving and he's started taking meter reads to work out how much people use.
The cost of buying water, whether it be town water or to supplement rainwater tanks, could dramatically change the economics of his business but he's uncertain what the bill might be.
Water shortage has already changed the way he does business - for example, the washing machines in each cottage are taped up and a sign asks guests to see the managers and use a more water-efficient commercial machine they have available.
He's also using the small cards printed by the SDRC that promote water saving.
"Whether people really pay attention to them, I don't know,” he said.
"We actually highlight in our welcome note the council's extreme water restrictions ... and we talk to guests about that.”
While curbing water use was important, Mr Michalski said the highest cost associated with town wateruse was the council's water charge, not the water itself.
A "water connection” charge on his most recent water bill, which comes twice a year, was $284, while his water cost $117.
Apple Blossom Cottage owner Robert Ebenestelli's business relies on town water and he's also using the council-issued signs to help raise awareness.
But he's concerned the message the area is in drought will push visitors away from the region.
"I'm not going to tell my guests not to use water,” he said.
"I think a lot of them have grown up in droughts, so most of them understand what the situation is.”
Alure Stanthorpe owner Marion Carrick said her luxury cabins and glamping tent had showers and outdoor spas that used less water than baths.
The main challenge during the drought, she said, had been how to irrigate the extensive gardens "so that guests aren't looking at a barren wasteland”, while not wasting water from the dam.
"Also, part of that is in the preparation of the gardens - they're drought-hardy, frost-hardy gardens,” she said.
Stanthorpe Information Centre volunteer Glenn Owens said the council's water-saving signs had been available for weeks and, while some had been taken, he said "a lot of people did say ... they're a bit loud”.