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It's not easy being green! - Kermit T. Frog   Home K-12 Schools 12 Steps toward Sustainability Water and Wastewater

    This waterless urinal looks like any other urinal, but uses a unique drain system that requires no water.
    Image courtesy epa.gov.
Water and Wastewater Management

Water and wastewater management in K-12 schools 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 affects water conservation. By reducing the amount of water consumed for the purposes of irrigation, the rate of consumption can be greatly reduced. Also, because runoff from irrigation causes water pollution, water conservation and the 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 its intended purpose. To reduce such waste, implement a program to report, respond to and repair leaks and faulty plumbing equipment. Encourage students and staff to report any leaks they may notice and require facilities personnel to exercise a timely response to water problems. Ensuring that leaks are identified and repaired as quickly as possible saves water resources and money.
  • Retrofit Buildings with "Water Savers"
    Employ water saving fixtures for faucets and showers. These simple improvements can save energy, water, and money. Where applicable, consider installing hot water re-circulation systems. These devices rapidly transfer hot water from the 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 water and energy costs by eliminating the need to wait for warm water from the fixture. Lastly, use low-flow showerheads in locker rooms to reduce water use. Low-flow showerheads can provide a shower that is just as satisfying as conventional showerheads with half the amount of water.
  • Try Waterless Lavatory Technologies
    Use waterless urinals and dual-flush/low-flow toilets. Waterless urinals are sanitary and produce no more odors than conventional urinals. Dual-flush toilets offer the option of a low-water or standard flush.
  • 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 for schools as well. Maintain forests and other green spaces that require little watering and plant native species on school grounds, by limiting lawns and exotic plantings. 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 and flushing toilets. For many of these technologies, it is necessary to renovate the intended building's plumbing systems to enable it to utilize the technology. Gardens can be located near rain barrels, allowing the use of runoff water for plant irrigation.
  • Protect Groundwater
    Protect groundwater by reducing the potential of toxic runoff. This can be accomplished by properly disposing of all hazardous waste. Permeable materials can be used for parking lots to filter runoff from vehicles. In addition, swales placed in a parking lot increase its rainwater capture ability and reduce water runoff during heavy rainstorms. Do not use pesticides or chemical fertilizers in maintaining school grounds as this presents a hazard to the groundwater 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. Close monitoring of the school water meter allows facility staff to quickly identification leaks so they can be corrected promptly.
  • Pursue Abatement Credits
    In many areas sewer fees are charged for surface runoff and for water used for irrigation. Reducing surface runoff will lower runoff fees, along with pursuing abatement credits for water not returned to the sewer system.
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