Rainwater Showers: One Solution for Tybee Island Tourists

Beachgoers on Tybee Island Georgia Photo

Image via: NIELS AHA on Flickr.com

Let's say you're a small town or village and a large portion of your economy is dependent on tourism. Let's say you are also, while concerned about sustaining your economy, concerned with sustaining the natural environment - the very thing that keeps tourists coming back and thus sustains your economy. How do you ensure that the footprint of all of these aliens is small enough or better yet invisible to protect your island? This is the challenge that Savannah College students were tasked with this semester, reports the Savannah Morning News. Their solution: look to the skies.Water conservation on an island is of the utmost importance. So, how do you encourage visitors to come to the island while protecting your precious water resources and not expend water unnecessarily? Savannah College of Art and Design students have come up with a plan to use rainwater and natural filtration systems to find a new way to use the same old water. Actually, this project was more than just a classroom exercise. The state of Georgia has mandated that several communities, including Tybee Island, reduce their water use. The island must save 44,000 gallons of water per day at the start of the new year.

Thus far, island officials have shut off the showers at the beach, saving an estimated 6,000 gallons of water per day in the summer. Students at Savannah think they have come up with a waterless system to rid beachgoers of sand. They lashed together bamboo poles with reclaimed artificial grass, that will "tickle the toes" as beachgoers walk over it, and in theory shake excess sand off.

To replace the showers, students plan to collect rainwater from the rooftops to use in showers. Sounds simple enough. Students also designed a filter system that uses "sand, gravel, peat moss and live plants" to clean greywater from sinks and showers that can then be reused in toilets and for landscaping.

This might seem like a silly idea, but Savannah students spent lots of time videotaping beachgoers in the showers. (Whoa!) What they found was that current systems are very inefficient, requiring beachgoers to clean off and then step back in muddy water as it pools around their feet. This was kept in mind when new systems were created - thus Savannah students this semester are finding a way to meet state water goals, reuse available water and also to help visitors shower smarter.

More on Beaches
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A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches
Top 5 Tips for Staying Green at the Beach
5 Beaches to Visit Before They Disappear

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