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
- 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!