UGA is maintaining a sharp reduction in water usage that began last November and is now saving water at a rate more than twice than mandated by Gov. Sonny Perdue.
Water usage for the period Nov. 1, 2007-March 31, 2008, is down 22 percent, or about 40.3 million gallons, from the comparable period of Nov. 1, 2006-March 31, 2007, according to the most recent report from the university’s energy services office. The reduction is an additional 12 percent below the 10 percent ordered by Perdue last fall to cope with severe drought conditions in parts of Georgia.
UGA’s water usage has been down since a special water task force issued a report in October that called for immediate conservation measures and included 50 recommendations for reducing consumption. The decline has remained well below the mandated 10 percent cut.
For just the month of March, usage was down by 24 percent (9.7 million gallons) compared to March 2007. Ken Crowe, energy services manager in UGA’s Physical Plant, said no single major factor accounts for the reduced usage.
“It’s a lot of small things,” Crowe said. “People are more aware and are paying more attention to how they use water, and we’re seeing the effects of some of the changes we’ve put into place.”
He said about two-thirds of the 40.3 million gallon reduction is attributable to greater conservation in university research labs and facilities, which the task force report cited as one of the university’s biggest water users.
More efficient systems for cooling water have been installed in two large research buildings, and workers in other buildings are helping in smaller ways. Workers in some greenhouses now water plants by hand instead of using automated equipment. A unit that has a lot of fish tanks is changing water in the tanks less frequently.
About 2.8 million gallons has been saved since November by ceasing irrigation of outside plants and turning off fountains.
A consultant has been studying UGA’s water usage in research areas and soon will present a report that should help provide greater savings in research operations, Crowe said.