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Creative initiatives are reaping big benefits for this precious resource

Whether in the desert of Death Valley or the snow-rich region of Glacier National Park, conserving water means being proactive. Xanterra Travel Collection®, the largest concessioner in the national parks, saves water with a number of creative initiatives. By changing refrigeration systems, employing smart rain gauges for lawn irrigation, upgrading laundry equipment, installing low-flow shower heads and toilets, and even switching the way ice cream scoops are rinsed, Xanterra Travel Collection® has reduced the use of water in the national park lodges it operates. Xanterra is committed to protecting the parks and places in which it works. Here are some highlights of water conservation programs Xanterra Travel Collection® has undertaken in the national parks.

Glacier National Park Lodges

Glacier National Park Lodges conserved water by switching to an air-cooled, instead of water-cooled, refrigeration system. The park plans to install sub-meters in lawn irrigation systems to monitor water use.

Grand Canyon National Park Lodges

This winter reclaimed water service was installed at the Grand Canyon, South Rim at the El Tovar Hotel. Used to flush toilets, this change is expected to reduce water use by approximately 4,000 gallons of potable water per day! Reclaimed water will also be used in the new Maswik South Lodges when they open this winter.

Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel

By harvesting monsoon rainwater and snowmelt collected in a million-gallon water retention pond, Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel reduced water consumption between 90,000 to 200,000-plus gallons annually since 2009. The harvested water powers the railway’s steam engine, whose boiler uses 15,000 gallons of water round trip. Cumulative savings: 720,000 to 1.6 million gallons.

Mount Rushmore National Monument

One significant use of water in food service that is often overlooked, is dipping wells for ice cream service. To clean ice cream scoops in Carvers’ Marketplace, Mount Rushmore switched from dipping wells with continually flowing water to electric dipping wells that heat a finite amount of water to a bacteria-killing 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The savings: an estimated 40 percent of the building’s water reduction of 120,000 gallons in the first month.

The Oasis at Death Valley

One of the most interesting features of The Oasis at Death Valley is its flow through pools. Water from natural hot springs feeds the swimming pools and afterward the water is reused to irrigate the golf courses and landscaping. The holding ponds for this water provide critical habitat and water sources for a wide variety of wildlife. Also during the last 3 years, the Oasis has implemented a desert golf course style landscaping plan, removing areas of turf and replacing it with native, desert hardy plants, making greater use of the reclaimed water.

Rocky Mountain National Park

When you dine over two miles high, water is hard to come by. Despite increasing service at the Trail Ridge Gift Store, Rocky Mountain National Park continues to focus on decreasing its water use. Among the changes were the installation of upgraded faucets that use pre-rinse sprays and automatic shut off sensors as well as the installation of hot water recirculating loops so that hot water takes less time to reach the sinks.

Yellowstone National Park

The park’s upgraded washing system for laundry and linens reduced water usage from 3 gallons per pound to one-third gallon per pound, creating a projected savings for 2017 of 12 million gallons for Yellowstone National Park Lodges. Five new lodges built to exacting LEED specifications improved water conservation 46 percent compared to conventional construction, creating an estimated savings of more than 10 million gallons per year.

Zion National Park

Since 2013, Zion National Park Lodge kitchens employed walk-in coolers that function on a heat exchange system instead of a water system, saving 800,000 gallons of water per year. From 2014 to 2016, Zion reduced its overall use of water by 21 percent, saving more than 546,000 gallons. In spring 2017, Zion installed smart rain gauges in its lawn sprinkler system to reduce the 12,000 gallons for lawn irrigation. When the gauges sense moisture in the air and in the ground, they correspondingly decrease the water delivered to the sprinkler system.

For information A World of Unforgettable Experiences® available from Xanterra Travel Collection® and its affiliated properties, visit