Don’t send $$$ down the drain: Water conservation saves money and resources
[ Originally published in MyVU]
In today’s economic climate, every little bit of savings helps. Plant Operations, VUMC Plant Services and SustainVU have been working for more than a year to find new and better ways to save water through the Campus Water Conservation Project. Not only does conserving water preserve a valuable resource and lessen our environmental impact, it has saved the university thousands of dollars each year.
In addition to the water conservation features already inherent in the newly-constructed Commons campus, VU Plant Operations and VUMC Plant Services have been systematically retrofitting restrooms throughout the institution. Almost 1,500 low-flow faucets, low-flow toilets and water-free urinals have been installed so far. These projects have resulted in estimated annual savings of $250,000 and approximately 37 million gallons of water a year (That’s enough water to fill more than 1.2 million bath tubs or cover four football fields 30 feet deep).
Plant Operations has also pursued a unique and creative water-saving opportunity by reclaiming and using millions of gallons of groundwater that collects in the web of utility tunnels buried beneath campus.
This non-potable (non-drinkable) water is used to irrigate the athletic fields and in the on-campus cogeneration power plant cooling towers. By capturing this water and redirecting it, Vanderbilt is reducing water purchases from Metro Water and sewer by an additional 50 million gallons a year.
Together, these projects are resulting in reduced water consumption at Vanderbilt by an estimated 87 million gallons of water per year, and saving more than $250,000 in water and sewer costs.
To do your part to save water, consider:
- Turning off the water when it is not in use;
- Reporting and repairing water leaks, broken toilets, and dripping faucets. On campus, contact Plant Operations (4-WORK); in the medical center, contact Plant Services (2-2041);
- Washing full, rather than partial, loads of labware, dishes, or clothes;
- Taking efficient showers and installing low-flow showerheads at home;
- Turning off the water when brushing your teeth and installing low-flow aerators on faucets at home;
- Install a rain barrel at home to use rainwater for yard and garden irrigation; a low-cost rain barrel, Systern, can be purchased from Metro Water and Sewer department.