Aug. 30-Sept. 12, 2002
Back Issues
Deep budget cuts ahead
Bond referendum a critical issue for higher education
Done Deal -- University finalizes plans for African consortium
Conserve -- U.Va. cracks down on water use

Apprenticeship program turns 20

How does aging affect cognition?
Children care for elderly parents
Years weaken signal of body’s master clock
Celiac sprue -- a disease that goes against the grain
In Memoriam
Hot Links -- U.Va. home page
Remembering Sept. 11th
Warm welcome
creek near Lambeth
Photo by Jenny Gerow

Water conservation tips:

• Report leaking faucets and toilets to Housing Maintenance at 924-3053.

• Use the washing machine or dishwasher only with full loads.

• Turn off the water while brushing teeth or shaving.

• Take shorter showers, four minutes or less.

• Don’t use the toilet as a trash can.

• Plant native plants and grasses that require less irrigation.
• Install low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators.

• Keep a bottle of water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap for cold water.

• Give leftover water to the plants instead of pouring it down the drain.

Do you have a favorite water conservation tip? E-mail it to us, and we’ll share it with our readers.

U.Va. cracks down on water use

By Matt Kelly

Even before local authorities announced mandatory water restrictions Aug. 22, the University had begun taking steps to limit its water use.

Among the biggest water-savers already implemented: new washing machines in University housing, installed over the summer, that could reduce consumption by more than 3 million gallons annually.

Associate Chief Housing Officer Marshall Hunt said U.Va. and Coldwell & Gregory, a firm that leases washing machines, have installed 216 Maytag Neptune energy- and water-efficient washers into the University residence halls. Hunt said the machines would use 2.1 million gallons of water annually, saving about 3.2 million gallons from what the previous machines used.

Area water officials have expressed concerns about the impact of students’ water usage. With reservoir levels dropping toward 70 percent of capacity, Charlottesville and Albemarle County officials imposed mandatory water conservation measures, forbidding outdoor watering, washing cars, filling swimming pools and hosing down sidewalks, driveways and parking lots. Restaurants must serve water only upon request.

Current rainfall is at 66 percent of normal for the year, but the drought actually started in July 1998, when the region started accumulating its water deficit, said Jerry Stenger, research coordinator with the State Climatology Office.

“Of the last 50 months, only 12 have had above-normal rainfall,” Stenger said. This leaves the region short about 45.06 inches of rain, nearly a year’s total rainfall in normal times.

Richard Defibaugh, manager of the water department for the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority, said area reservoirs were being depleted at the rate by about 1 percent of capacity per day, with extreme heat accelerating the demand. Hurricane rains would be needed at this point to bring water levels to normal, he said.

The University has halted outdoor irrigation, turned off ornamental fountains, deferred indefinitely fall plantings and stopped vehicular washing. Use of water at construction sites and athletic fields has been limited to the minimum required for regulatory and safety reasons, said Cheryl Gomez, director of utilities for Facilities Management.

Tony Motto, who manages energy and water conservation for U.Va., said the University’s campaign to reduce water use includes advising students to take shorter showers, not running the water while shaving or brushing teeth, and washing full loads of clothing or dishes. Motto said tent cards have been placed on dining hall tables and hang cards on doorknobs to remind students.

Motto is also spearheading a plan to replace aerators on University faucets. He said aerators reduce the faucet flow, normally three to four gallons a minute, to about 1.5 gallons a minute.

“We can make permanent changes in a person’s behavior,” Gomez said. “This goes for energy use as well.”

People should report leaks or running faucets, Gomez said. An earlier survey of water pipes uncovered a few minor leaks, and there are plans to replace older water pipes on Grounds. Already, many water lines at the McCormick Road dormitories have been replaced.

The University, which purchases more than 90 percent of its water from the City of Charlottesville, uses roughly 29 percent of the city’s water supply, Gomez said. In the last fiscal year, the University used 542 million gallons of water. A comparison of water usage between April 2001 and April 2002 shows an 85,000-gallon reduction, though Gomez noted that could be weather-related, since much of the University’s water is used in heating and cooling. Irrigation accounts for only 1.5 to 2 percent of the University’s water usage, she noted.

“There are water deficits around the world,” she said. “There will always be people who think this doesn’t have any impact on them, but I have a high regard for the students. They get involved with things, like recycling.”



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