Protecting Precious Resources: Xanterra Initiatives Conserve Water in National Parks

For Immediate Release
Photos Available

DENVER, November 14, 2013 – Long recognized as an innovator in areas of sustainability Xanterra has for years developed and implemented water-conservation initiatives that continue to make a real, measurable difference in the effort to protect water resources.

“From desert climates like Grand Canyon and Death Valley National Parks to the geothermal paradise that defines Yellowstone, water is a resource that we must never take for granted, and we are continuously looking for ways to make sure that doesn’t happen,” said Catherine Greener, vice president of sustainability for Xanterra Parks & Resorts.

Most recently, Xanterra joined a coalition of some 900 businesses known as “Protect the Flows” to promote innovative water policy to protect the Colorado River. While the river is best known for carving the Grand Canyon, it is also a key water source in two other locations where Xanterra has operations: Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park, which is located near the river’s headwaters, and Utah’s Zion National Park, where the Virgin River’s water flows to the Colorado.

“Time is running out for the Colorado River,” said Greener. “Due to a combination of drought and increased consumption, the Colorado River has lost more than a third of its stored water. Those of us who rely on the resource must take serious steps to preserve it.”

Greener noted that the Colorado River produces $26 billion per year in economic output from recreation and supports one quarter of a million jobs.

The company has set an aggressive long-term goal to reduce water use by 25 percent from 2003 levels by 2015.

In addition to the tangible actions Xanterra is taking through the Protect the Flows coalition, the company has initiated numerous location-specific programs designed to conserve water and also to educate visitors about the importance of doing so. Among them:

  • In  Yellowstone National Park where the company operates nine lodges along with numerous restaurants, stores and activities, the company installed $2 million worth of modern, energy-efficient laundry equipment, including a continuous batch washing system that saves more than 3,000 gallons of water daily.
  • In response to one of the driest years on record in Crater Lake National Park and other parts of the Pacific Northwest, Xanterra developed a program called “Conserve for Crater,” with a goal to reduce consumption by 25 percent. Examples of initiatives at Crater Lake Lodge and Mazama Village include the installation of low-flow fixtures, no-irrigation landscaping and encouraging the reuse of sheets and towels. Guest messaging is an important component of this well-received program.
  • The water used at Furnace Creek Resort  in California’s Death Valley National Park is mountain runoff entering the valley through natural springs and captured in a gravity-feed system. The water is first used at the Inn at Furnace Creek water the gardens and to supply the swimming pool, which was designed with a flow-through system that minimizes chemical use. That water then continues downhill to the Ranch at Furnace Creek where it fills the ponds on the golf course, providing habitat for local and migratory wildlife. The water in the ponds then irrigates the golf course. Additionally, during the winter the company uses a natural dye to make brown, dormant Bermuda grass green, effectively eliminating the need for wintertime watering.
  • At Grand Canyon National Park, just moving water from its source near the North Rim to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and its six lodges and multiple other operations is a challenge as the water must move 3,200 vertical feet, an energy-intensive exercise. To reduce this impact, Xanterra uses some 60,000 gallons per year of reclaimed water for non-potable purposes in its kennels, employee bathrooms and landscape irrigation.
  • At  Grand Canyon Railway in Williams, Ariz., Xanterra has reduced water consumption by 63.6 percent between 2008 and 2012 by harvesting 169,000 gallons of monsoon rain water and snow melt to reuse as boiler water for its steam train, which makes special runs several times a year; and implementing an aggressive conservation education program for guests and employees.

In addition to these examples, Xanterra has:

  • Equipped nearly all guest rooms with water-efficient fixtures
  • Installed dual-flush toilets in some public bathrooms
  • Installed waterless urinals in some locations
  • Converted from regular landscaping to xeriscaping or eliminating landscaping altogether
  • Encouraging towel and linen reuse companywide, with an estimated 75 guest-participation rate.

“Even though we have made significant progress, we will continue to seek new ways to conserve water in all of our operations,” said Greener.

For more information about the company’s sustainability initiatives, visit http://www.xanterra.com/sustainability.