No water shortage at festivals... or is there?

Ever wondered how much water is being used at festivals? Used, consumed, wasted… This is what you can do as an event planner to minimize water usage at your event. Water usage is an important part of a festival’s environmental plan. You can read more about this subject in my eBook.

You need to determine how much water has been used at your event. Not an easy task but you can start by measuring your water usage. Think about the different ways water is being used and consumed at your event:

Bollocks! Too much water got wasted here...

Bollocks! Too much water got wasted here...

  • Drink water
  • Showers
  • Hand washing
  • Catering
  • Food & beverage stalls
  • Toilets (to a certain degree)

Nowadays at most events and festivals the audience can get free water. Make sure you speak to your local authorities about the rules and regulations regarding this. When you do offer free water make sure it is safe to drink and available from several water stations at your event site. You need to look at your audience capacity, the weather and the nature of your event.

Somehow you need to manage your water stations. What I mean by that is that you need to make sure that you don’t spill too much water. You want to make sure your water faucets don’t constantly drip and that used water isn’t leaking into the soil.

Toilet facilities

Toilets at events often seem a ‘forgotten nuisance’. I’ve been to festivals and events where the toilets were not cleaned at all. You can’t do that! Besides hygiene, health issues, and a bad smell it can also give your festival a bad reputation. Please make sure you clean your toilets regularly. Overflowing toilets can also lead to sewage leaking into the soil. In some cases this can leave you with a fine from your local authorities. The number of toilets you need on site depends on the capacity of your event, duration, whether it is indoor or outdoor, and gender ratio. The Event Safety Guide gives you the following guideline when calculating the number of toilets needed at your event:

The Festival Toilet... lovely

The Festival Toilet... lovely

“For an event with a gate opening time of 6 hours or more you should have 1 toilet for every 100 women at your event. You should have 1 toilet for every 500 men and 1 urinal for every 150 men at your event.”

“If your event is less then 6 hours long you should have 1 toilet for every 120 women at your event. You should also have 1 toilet for every 600 men and 1 urinal for every 175 men.”

Showers at festivals

Other sanitary facilities, such as showers and hand-wash stations, can also directly produce wastewater. If possible make sure your showers lead directly to a sewage system or have adequate measures in place to collect this wastewater.

Water usage at your event means that you need to think of the different ways in which you are using and providing water. From clear drinking water to flushing toilets to doing the dishes in the production area.


Make sure you have a plan in place that specifies how you will deal with the different ways in which water is used at your event. Most events and festivals have trucks coming to the event to remove wastewater from the site (unless your event site is connected to a sewage system). Again this requires you to think about how often you need to collect your wastewater. There are more innovative ways as well.

Rock Werchter festival

Rock Werchter festival in Belgium, a festival that has been going strong since the 1970s, introduced an on site water treatment station in 2014. This mobile water treatment unit collects sanitary and other wastewater the festival has produced in a holding basin. Within this basin the water is filtered and separated from the waste. All of this is done in a biological manner. This is a great initiative and hopefully we will see more of this in the near future.

There are less expensive ways in which you can tackle water usage at your event. Some of these methods are:

  • Rain harvesting
  • Compost toilets
  • Hand sanitizers
  • Bring your own bottle
  • Water conservation

If you want more information you can contact me via my website The Event Tutor or you can download my online workshop Sustainable Event Management.