Campus Life: Water Usage

Water conservation is a huge issue in the arid West and the University plays a key role in educating students about water usage. In light of this, the University has engaged in a water conservation program in the residence halls that has resulted in a significant reduction of usage. All residence halls are metered by the Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA). Residence hall retrofits have included installation of both low flow showerheads and low flow sink aerators. A major bathroom renovation of Nye Hall in the summer of 2009 included the installation of electronic faucets in all bathrooms to reduce water usage. Installing floor-byfloor water metering and linking it to a common website will provide immediate feedback for students to measure their water consumption. Water conservation projects on campus will be encouraged, supported and could be funded through a Green Fund.

Landscaping practices on campus that are water efficient will be recognized using various signage and in campus publications. In addition to the existing xeriscape gardens and landscaping, more xeriscaping principles could be implemented campus wide. Water conservation projects on campus should be encouraged and supported.

Possible Water Conservation Projects

  • Policies to support energy savers; sustainable landscape choices for water use and distribution; water-efficient landscape selections and maintenance; and the incorporation of natural features into the campus landscape.
  • Plan, design and build water harvesting structures such as functional fountains, rain gardens, bio-retention basins and terraces.
  • Install and retrofit where possible electric faucets, waterless urinals and low-flow toilets in all campus buildings using the residence halls as a case study.
  • Use low-impact development practices.
  • Support and build student gardens, community gardens and composting centers.
  • Convert landscape irrigation to take advantage of reclaimed water.
  • Replace or reduce turf where appropriate as part of a xeriscape strategy.

Learn More

The University of Nevada, Reno is concerned about its water consumption. To assist in planning initiatives and growth at the University, graduate student Jess Henning in developing a stormwater model for the campus. This model will predict event flows and evaluate different growth scenarios for their effect on stormwater runoff.

Read more: www.unr.edu/features/08-09/henning

Joe Crowley Student Union: Improving Water Quality by Managing Storm Water Runoff

Water washing over the land, whether from rain or lawn irrigation, picks up an array of contaminants. On campus, these contaminants include oil and sediment from cars, parking lots, and roadways, trash and debris, and nutrients and other materials from lawns and landscaping. This runoff finds its way into our waterways, either directly or through storm drain collection systems. Scientific evidence shows that although huge strides have been made in cleaning up major point sources, our water resources are still threatened by the effects of polluted runoff.

Solutions to storm water pollution problems focus on maintaining the pre-development hydrology of the site using a technique called Low Impact Development (LID).

Download presentationThis approach was used to install a small demonstration project at the entrance to the Joe Crowley Student Union. The circular entry area was constructed of pavers placed on a sand bed. Water will soak into the sand bed and slowly percolate into the underlying soil, rather than running off.

The project allowed the elimination of storm drain lines and three drop inlets. The plaza area was raised so it does not collect storm water drainage, which would otherwise have been sent directly into the storm drain system. The pavers increase water retention and potential ground water recharge on-site when compared with a traditional asphalt surface.

View/Download Presentation (PDF)

Info Sheet (PDF)