U.Va. makes every drop count:
Take steps to conserve water
By Matt Kelly
good news: the University has reduced its water consumption by
8 percent in the first eight months of the current fiscal year.
bad news: more must be done.
is enduring drought conditions not seen in more than 70 years,
and is coming off the driest six-month period since weather records
have been kept. Stream flows reached historic lows for March,
comparable to levels normally seen in the drier months of September
you can do to conserve
Wash only full loads of clothes and dishes.
Do not run the water while shaving or brushing teeth.
Sweep sidewalks and driveways instead of hosing them down.
Wash cars with a sponge and bucket of water, and use a sprayer
head on the hose.
Limit showers to five minutes or less.
Do not use the toilet as a trash can.
Do outdoor watering early in the morning or late at night,
if at all.
Plant native grasses and shrubs that require less water.
Install low-flow faucets, aerators and toilets.
Mark Warner has directed state agencies to develop water conservation
plans and is urging Virginians to reduce water use for non-critical
purposes. The University, the city of Charlottesville, Albemarle
County and the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority are working together
in a joint effort to convince area residents to reduce water consumption
by 10 percent.
Motto, the Universitys energy
program manager, said the University has been installing aerators
on faucets on Grounds and at the Medical Center to reduce water
flow, and the Housing Division is working with contractors to
install 230 high-efficiency washing machines in the residence
hall laundry rooms. Many water-conserving toilets have been retrofitted
into older University buildings, and low-flow showerheads have
been installed in the residence halls and athletic facilities
as they are renovated, said Cheryl Gomez, director of utilities
for the University.
University has halted most outdoor watering, though Gomez said
this accounts for only about 1.5 to 2 percent of U.Va.s
water use. Some watering must continue to protect the Universitys
investment in athletic fields and to keep them safe for the players.
Some new plantings may also require watering to get them established,
but storm-water runoff, captured in holding tanks, is being used
where possible, Motto said. The University has also stopped washing
vehicles and equipment.
trying to combine behavior changes with technology, so we can
all work together to reach a goal, Motto said.
worked on a series of water conservation methods at the University
in 1999, Motto expressed optimism that, given good information,
most people will do the right thing.
Universitys water pipes appear to be in good shape, Gomez
said. Last fall, leaks were fixed at two locations under McCormick
Road, and in two fire hydrants. Water lines leading to the McCormick
Road dorms have been replaced, and plans are afoot to replace
those at the Academical Village.
25 percent of the Universitys water is used in heating and
cooling. Most is conserved in a closed system, in which steam
is generated for heat, then the condensation is recaptured for
reuse, although some steam is lost through evaporation, Motto
University has also benefited from a mild summer and winter, which
put less stress on the heating and cooling systems.
water usage generally falls around 600 million gallons per fiscal
year. Gomez estimates that the University uses 20,000 gallons
per student and employee, or about 55 gallons per person per day;
the national average is 101 gallons per person per day. This does
not measure employees water use at home, she noted.
Universitys water conservation plan mandates that new facilities
include central chiller plants that re-circulate chilled water
for cooling; building boilers or central heating plants that re-circulate
hot water; water meters in all buildings, with separate metering
for irrigation systems; and low-flow toilets and showerheads.
projects include installation of central chilled water systems,
expansion of central chiller plants to reduce stand-alone units,
replacement of older toilets and showerheads, and use of state-of-the-art
irrigation systems that shut off when a prescribed soil moisture
content is reached.