Water Use at Events

Waste water may disappear down the sink and into a city’s sewer system or it may be in-your-face with ‘suck trucks’ carting grey water and sewage away. Some grey water can make its way straight into the ground water using soak-aways. How you manage waste water is a primary environmental concern.

Waste water can either be disposed of through a sewage treatment plant or directly onto the land. Events that are not connected to municipal sewer lines will need to arrange for their waste water to be pumped into tankers and taken by road to sewage treatment plants. Some grey water may be able to be disposed of at the event site.

Chemical free waste water should be the event’s goal. Sustainable solutions for waste water management, includes management of emissions to water, waste water processing and grey water recycling.

Emissions to Water
Sources of potential hazardous emissions to water at events include:

  • Contamination through chemical-based cleaning products, personal products, hand wash and catering sullage.
  • Urination directly into waterways or onto the ground which can make its way to waterways through ground water if the event is muddy and wet.
  • Using paints with toxic substances which remain in wash-up water disposed of into sewer systems or directly onto the ground.
  • Using chemical-based toilet treatment products to mask odours where sewage treatment works use a biological process.

To prevent toxic chemicals hitting the waterways and treatment plants by:

  • Use chemical free cleaning products.
  • Use biological toilet treatment products rather than chemical.
  • Use non-toxic paints so wash up water is not full of toxic pigments.

Cleaning Products
Products used to clean bathrooms, floors, kitchens and any other surface or material need to be environmentally sound. There are two issues to contend with when looking at these products’ impact on the environment through resulting emissions to water; Raw materials used to make the product and biodegradability of the resulting effluent.

  • Food outlets should use chemical free cleaning products to ensure waste water is not polluted.
  • Chemical free cleaning products & disinfectants should be used for toilet cleaning.

More details on cleaning product procurement here.

Paint Sullage
If there is a lot of painting done at your event during site build, you may wish to consider the impact of large amounts of paint being washed down the drain or poured onto the land. More details on paint procurement here.

Catering Sullage
Grey water also makes its way into the biological treatment works in the local region, down the drain or via suck trucks. It is recommended caterers be encouraged to use environmentally sound, chemical free cleaning products.

Excessive amounts of urine can quickly make its way into water ways. Men at events with crowded toilets are often tempted to take a leak in any dark nook or cranny they can find. If it rains, the urine makes its way to the water table. Increased urine levels in waterways can be extremely harmful to the delicately balanced ecosystems.

Personal Products In Showers
If the event includes staying overnight, either through accommodation or camping,   encourage the use of environmentally sound personal products; shampoo, body wash and hand wash. You can progress this further by providing the products for use, perhaps leveraging a partnership with a commercial retail product.