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It's not easy being green! - Kermit T. Frog   Home Colleges & Universities 12 Steps toward Sustainability Water and Wastewater Management


Water and Wastewater Management
Water and wastewater management on campus encompasses two dimensions. First, domestic water use can be controlled by proper maintenance and by installing low-flow water systems, or by using non-water alternatives to conventional technology. Secondly, land use also comes into play with water conservation. Reducing the amount of water consumed for the purposes of irrigation can significantly reduce consumption. And because runoff from irrigation causes water pollution, water conservation and protection of drinking water and watersheds are partially linked.

    Automatic motion-sensing faucets not only save water, but are more sanitary than those with handles.
  Organizational Assistance   Best Practices  
  • Report, Respond and Repair
    Leaks and plumbing problems cause water to be wasted before it fulfills any function as wash water, coolant or drinking water. To reduce such waste, implement a program to report, respond and repair leaks and faulty plumbing equipment. Encourage students to report leaks to their residence hall director and require facilities personnel to exercise a timely response to water problems. Ensuring that leaks are identified and repaired as quickly as possible saves institutional resources.
  • Retrofit Buildings with "Water Savers"
    Employ water saving fixtures for faucets and showers. These simple improvements can save energy, water, and money. In addition, where applicable, consider installing hot water re-circulation systems. These devices rapidly transfer hot water from a water tank to where it is used. The result is that less water is used as water coming out of the faucet is heated instantaneously. This measure reduces waste by eliminating the need to wait for warm water to begin coming out of the fixture. Lastly, use low-flow showerheads to reduce water use while providing a shower that is just as satisfying as conventional showerheads.
  • Try Waterless Lavatory Technologies
    Use waterless urinals and experiment with waterless-toilets. Water-less urinals have developed in recent years that are sanitary and produce no more odors than conventional urinals. Waterless toilets need to be installed with a compost system.
  • Minimize Irrigation
    More than 30% of the water used by an average American household is used to water lawns and gardens. Proportionally speaking, this likely represents a great deal of water consumption on campuses as well. Maintain on-campus forests and other green spaces that require little watering. Plant native species on university grounds; indigenous species are specifically adapted to surviving in the local climate conditions and consequently do not use excessive quantities of water.
  • Capture Rainwater
    Rainwater capture technologies reduce water consumption and can be installed as part of LEED certification. These technologies, depending on their level of sophistication, enable rainwater to be used for various things such as watering plants, flushing toilets, or even drinking. For many of these technologies, it is necessary to renovate the intended building's plumbing systems to enable it to utilize the technology.
  • Protect Groundwater
    Protect groundwater by reducing the potential for toxic runoff. This can be accomplished by properly disposing of all hazardous waste. Permeable materials can be designed into parking lots to filter runoff from vehicles. In addition, place swales in parking lots to increase their rainwater capture ability and to reduce water runoff during heavy rainstorms. Do not use pesticides or chemical fertilizers when maintaining campus grounds as they present a hazard to the ground water supply. Additionally, reduce impervious surfaces to enable more rainwater to infiltrate the water table.
  • Water Metering
    Water meters are devices which enable water consumption to be tracked. These meters are installed in order to bill customers more accurately. It has been found that tracking consumption tends to reduce it. Water metering allows for the identification of problems so they can be corrected promptly.
  • Pursue abatement credits for water not returned to the sewer system
    In many areas, fees exist for surface runoff. One way to reduce the problem of surface runoff is to lower runoff fees to individual property owners who mitigate the problem themselves. So, not only is a person saving money by using less water, they are getting money back for not wasting water.
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