For today’s focus on sustainable programs at UConn, we look at the new Water Reclamation Facility on campus. Here’s a great write up of how the water reclamation facility works, as well as a repost of Corinne’s visit to the Water Reclamation Facility.
You may not know this, but if you see a purple pipe, it indicates that the water inside is recycled or reclaimed water! Reclaiming water is a great way to promote conservation, and also to reduce the overuse of potable (drinkable) water. Water gets used for all sorts of things at UConn – irrigation, flushing toilets, industrial uses, cooling, heating, and (most importantly in this hot weather) air conditioning! None of those uses actually require potable water – just water. At UConn, we actually have a Central Utility Plant (the CUP) which provides cogeneration, heating, cooling, fire protection and emergency electrical backup power to the campus. Today we had an event to celebrate the opening of UConn’s Reclaimed Water Facility, which in the summer, provides water primarily for cooling to the CUP. Today, all of the water necessary for cooling has been provided to the CUP, and all of the energy needed on campus so far today has been provided by the CUP!
In order to recycle water, storm water and waste water are collected, filtered and cleaned, and then piped to the CUP. Right now, water for cooling is the primary use for reclaimed water at UConn, but there is the possibility for duel piping in new buildings to use reclaimed water for toilets, and permits are currently under review to allow us to use reclaimed water for irrigation. In the winter, the reclaimed water will continue to be used for the lower cooling needs of the university, as well as to provide water for the boilers to produce steam to heat the university. After the water is used at the CUP, it then flows back to the reclaimed water facility to be filtered, cleaned, and used again.
Reclaiming water is an important step towards environmental sustainability, even in a relatively water-rich region. Reusing waste water (or grey water), or reclaiming water is critical for basic health and survival in many water-poor regions of the world where there is not enough potable water to use it for sanitation, irrigation, or industrial uses, as well as for drinking water. In the developing world – where 800 million people lack access to clean water and 2.5 billion people lack access to proper sanitation – infrastructure can be designed and built to support reclaimed water, rather than adding it after the fact.
As part of UConn’s commitment to sustainability and to human rights, I hope that the reach of our reclaimed water facility goes beyond just reducing our water use, but helps provide an example of responsible and sustainable water use for others across the globe.