Campus conserves 329,000 gallons of water in three-month span

Waynesburg University recently undertook a project to cut down on water and sewage waste throughout campus.

Two different grants were awarded to the university to assist in these efforts, including the PepsiCo grant, awarded in March. The school received $8,109 to reduce water use and sewage through the purchasing of new water aerators, toilet handles and showerheads. 

Universities could submit applications to win up to $10,000, and Waynesburg University was one of 14 schools throughout the United States to receive more than $8,000.

“This project started when I was reading two separate articles. One was about leverage points and the other was about water conservation,” said Ryan Smith, assistant director of student activities. “Simply, a leverage point is making a small change, such as implementing green handles, aerators, and showerheads in our water fixtures that forces a larger change, like avoiding the consumption of water, in the system behavior.”

The articles Smith read discussed the Energy Policy Act of 1992 that aims to reduce water consumption. Before this policy was put into place, toilets were flushing between three to five gallons of water per flush. After the policy, the new regulation was 1.6 gallons per flush. Any toilets that were installed before 1992 were not required to be updated. 

 “After realizing we have not made those changes on campus, I decided to start applying for grants to make these changes a reality,” Smith said.

After receiving the grant, Waynesburg installed green handles on toilets, aerators in faucets and eco-efficient showerheads in all of the residence halls.

It started off with a trial run in Burns Residence Hall. By installing energy-efficient toilet handles with the money from a previous grant, the residence hall showed a reduction in water use by approximately 82,000 gallons, all in a time span of 30 days.

The funding is awarded for projects aimed at making environmental, economic and social sustainability impacts on campus, according to the PepsiCO Recycling website. Winning proposals will explain how the Pepsi Zero Impact Fund would help each school reach its sustainability goals and will be judged based on the following criteria: environmental impact, social impact, desirability, feasibility, longevity, ingenuity and cost Effectiveness.”

“From the months of July, August and September, we’ve avoided the use of 329,000 gallons of water and sewage in the residence halls that were updated,” said Smith, “I’m conservatively projecting that we will save 1 million gallons of water per semester.”

New faucets and showerheads won’t solve all of the problems, though. Students need to get involved as well.

“Students are using millions of gallons of water per residence hall,” Smith said, “We will not be able to reduce our water consumption by 50%. To make that goal a reality, students will need to be more conscious of their water usage. For example: Students can turn off the tap when brushing their teeth or shaving. Students can reduce the duration of their showers. Lastly, if someone sees a leaking faucet, shower or pipe, please take action and help us save water by submitting a maintenance report.”