Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia’s success in reducing water usage and promoting water conservation has been recognized with an award from the Georgia WaterWise Council.
The council presented its 2007 Fox McCarthy Certificate of Achievement to UGA for its efforts to lower water usage over the past five years through such measures as upgrading or retrofitting equipment, composting and sustainable landscaping.
UGA’s water consumption per square foot of building space has dropped by 11 percent since 2003. In just the four-month period of November 2007, to February 2008, water usage fell 21 percent compared to the same period a year before. This consumption was 11 percent less than the 10 percent reduction mandated by Gov. Sonny Perdue last fall.
The Georgia WaterWise Council, a unit of the Georgia Association of Water Professionals, said UGA’s efforts “stand out for their effectiveness, transferability and assurance of longevity,” and added, “It is our hope that your leadership in the field and your commitment to conserving Georgia’s water resources will inspire other universities to follow your path.”
Ken Crowe, director of energy services in UGA’s physical plant, accepted the award at the recent GAWP annual conference in Columbus.
UGA has saved some 84 million gallons of water over five years by replacing sections of 50-year-old condensate return piping for the steam distribution system. Older bathroom plumbing fixtures are being replaced with low-flow fixtures throughout campus, which will save about 30 million gallons of water annually.
Water also has been saved through use of more efficient irrigation systems, installation of rain gardens and increased composting. Two existing buildings and one under construction will utilize cisterns to capture rainwater and air conditioning condensation for reuse.
A significant portion of UGA’s water savings has occurred in research buildings, where usage is down about 26 percent from last year. Chilled water loops have replaced less efficient cooling systems in two buildings and water meters have been installed on all cooling towers to monitor usage during the cooling season.
Last fall, the university created a special task force to study water usage in the face of the severe drought. The task force report contained numerous recommendations for cutting usage throughout the campus as well as ideas for finding new sources of water.
The “Every Drop Counts” education campaign has been effective in creating public awareness of water issues and building support for increased conservation efforts.