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Former Water Conservation Workgroup

Background

From 2005 to 2007, the EPAC Water Conservation Workgroup worked to develop goals and action plans for the University's water conservation initiatives, including outreach. This workgroup oversaw actions taken by volunteers and members to ensure progress in meeting these goals.

As a result of these workgroup members' efforts, a number of successful pilot programs were established on new equipment or potential water conservation techniques. Some of these initiatives included:

  • A waterless urinal donated to the University was installed in Facilities and tested for a period of one month to measure the reduction in water usage
    Chicken bubbler water system
    Upgraded watering system installed in the UConn chicken coops.
  • Continue to research potential "phase-out" of "once-through" or single-pass cooling for laboratory equipment, air conditioning equipment, and the steam plant – promote closed-loop and forced-air cooling systems
  • Upgraded current watering system used for the chicken coops to install a closed loop system which will provide recycling of flowing water to prevent waste- saving 1,000,000 gallons of water annually.
  • Irrigation-reducing landscape – encourage native, non-invasive species, xeriscaping, hydrozones, and smart-sprinkler systems
  • Installed 522 Maytag Neptune, high efficiency – front load washing machines on campus. These washers will use 15-18 gallons per load, compared to the 30-32 with top loader machines- saving 2,600,000 gallons of water annually with the front load machines.
  • Collaborate with Dining services and other departments to identify opportunities for water conservation.

The University of Connecticut recognizes that the drinking water supply is a precious and limited natural resource. In the vicinity of the main campus in Storrs and nearby Mansfield Depot campus, UConn owns two major wellfields. By safely managing and protecting these important groundwater resources, the university operates the public water supply and distribution system for nearly 25,000 users. Users include not only the University community, but also several municipal facilities owned by the Town of Mansfield, more than a dozen commercial buildings, and about 100 private homes surrounding the campus. Although state regulators believe UConn's water supply is adequate in the near term, the lack of additional drinking water supply sources is among the most limiting factors for economic development in Mansfield and the University's continued growth into the future. This situation makes water conservation an even more important aspect of environmental and economic sustainability at UConn.

While UConn has made substantial structural water conservation gains over the past 10 years, we can and should do more in our daily operations, activities and personal routines to reduce water use. Mostly through our extensive capital improvement program, UConn 2000, which began in 1995, the University has discovered and replaced leaking water lines and installed or retrofitted low-flow plumbing fixtures and appliances. These measures helped reduce water demand by 20% from 1989 to 2002, despite a corresponding 25% growth in the user population during that period, mainly from increased student enrollment. To date, UConn has made most of the major structural improvements that affect water use and must now conserve by improving management practices. As stewards of the land, UConn is charged with protecting both the quality and quantity of natural resources – we must act now to sustain our drinking water supply for future generations!

Water Conservation Goals

  • Implement best management practices or demonstration projects in each of the following five areas that either promote water conservation or conserve the amount of water used:
    • research/academic laboratories
    • facilities and grounds maintennce
    • farm services
    • motor pool
    • dining services and residential life
  • Obtain baseline water use data for the University in the areas of research/academic laboratories, facilities maintenance, grounds maintenance, animal science and personal use.
  • Establish residential, academic, athletic, and agricultural area-specific water conservation tactics.
  • Meet with individual facility stakeholders to develop and begin implementing best management practices or demonstration projects that result in quantifiable water usage reduction.
  • Water Conservation Action Plan Initiaves

    • Work with UConn's Architectural & Engineering Services Department to ensure that utility sub-metering (e.g., water supply and sewer system), scheduled to begin in 2004, happens expeditiously and in a manner that best enables UConn to begin accurately measuring, promoting and rewarding water conservation.
    • Require water conservation measures to be incorporated into UConn's grant application compliance review process for any proposed grant-funded research that would require consumptive water use (e.g., cooling water systems for lab equipment).
    • Phase out "once-through" or single-pass cooling for lab equipment, air conditioning equipment and the steam plant – instead, promote closed-loop and forced-air cooling systems.
    • Inventory current irrigation practices for grounds maintenance (by both Facilities Operations Dept. and Athletics Dept.) and identify possible opportunities for water conservation.
    • Inventory current water use by Dining Services, Residential Life, and the Motor Pool and identify possible opportunities for water conservation.
    • Examine potential new purchasing specifications for equipment and appliances related to water conservation and efficiency standards.
    • Consider ways to minimize irrigation such as native, non-invasive plants and landscaping, xeriscaping, hydrozones and smart-sprinkler systems.
    • Re-visit possible use of "gray" water (treated discharge from UConn sewage treatment plant) or clean stormwater (e.g., roof runoff) for small-scale irrigation and plant watering; document any applicable regulatory restrictions, conditions or prohibitions.
    • Develop system to ensure immediate reporting of leaking water lines and malfunctioning plumbing and toilets.
    • Practice good maintenance by responding to reports of leaking water lines and malfunctioning plumbing and toilets within 24 hours and by checking all buildings four times per year.
    • Quantify the water saved through use of the closed-loop "bubbler drinker" system in operation at the Poultry Barn, and consider the costs and benefits of installing these systems throughout the University's chicken coops.
    • Quantify and promote the water conservation that will be realized by the planned construction and operation (2005) of UConn's 25 MW combined-cycle Cogeneration Facility, which will which will capture steam produced from generating electricity in order to provide heating & cooling, reducing cooling water discharges.
    • Explore the feasibility of waterless urinals at certain locations and facilities.
    • Collaborate with the EPAC Environmental Outreach Subcommittee, which has selected Conservation Awareness as one of its three priority initiatives for 2004 (i.e., water and energy conservation).
    • Meet with individual facility stakeholders to develop and begin implementing water conservation measures, strategies and action plans
    • Present findings to full EPAC and/or C&BP Subcommittee and Water Conservation Workgroup
    • Continue to establish residential, academic, athletic, and agricultural area-specific water conservation tactics.

    2005-2006 Workgroup

    Name Department
    Nelly Abboud Civil & Environmental Engineering, Associate Professor
    Patti Bostic Athletics Student Recreation, Specialist
    Frank Labato Environmental Health & Safety, Director
    Rich Miller Office of Environmental Policy, Director 
    Melanie Murphy OEP Intern; Agricultural & Resource Economics Undergrad Student
    Mike Pacholski Facilities Management (Regional Campuses), Professional
    Christopher Shores Engineering Undergrad Student
    Doug Stone Animal Research Services, Director
    Andrea Vassallo OEP Intern; Landscape Architecture Undergrad Student
    Kate Wadach OEP Intern; Environmental Policy Undergrad Student
    Russell Ward Engineering Undergrad. Student
    Stefan Wawzyniecki Environmental Health & Safety, Manager
    John Wheeler Animal Science, Farm Manager
    Vaughn Williams Athletics Sports Operations, Executive Assistant