Elon adopts water conservation measures

Elon University is taking additional steps to reduce water use in response to the recent drought conditions, and students living both on and off campus are being asked to change some of their daily behaviors to limit water use. Details…

“Elon has already taken many steps to conserve water as part of the campus sustainability initiative,” said Gerald Whittington, vice president for business, finance and technology. “But as we face a looming water crisis and unfavorable forecasts, we are calling on the campus community to do everything possible to reduce consumption.”

  • As of Nov. 1, Elon will discontinue using any city water for irrigation on campus, and will limit watering to a level that is necessary to keep alive the valuable trees, shrubs, athletics fields and plantings in the campus botanical garden. Watering on many campus areas has already been cut or curtailed significantly.

    Under normal conditions, Elon draws 85 percent of its irrigation water from ponds on campus, using only about 15 percent from city water supplies. Earlier this fall Elon reduced its use of city water by half, and in keeping with new city watering restrictions, Elon will stop using any city water and rely totally on pond water for irrigating campus lawns and plantings. Pond water is recycled in the watering process, since the runoff makes its way through the storm drain system back to the ponds.

    Physical plant staff members ask that any water leaks or missing sprinkler heads be reported immediately to avoid wasting water.

  • Landscaping and ground crews have postponed fall planting of trees and shrubs until more favorable soil moisture conditions exist.
  • Sprays on campus fountains will be limited and the hours of operation cut back, reducing loss of water to evaporation. The fountains will not be drained or refilled during routine maintenance.
  • Physical Plant personnel will stop washing university-owned vehicles.
  • Students living on campus are being asked to take the following water conservation steps:
    • Take shorter showers
    • Do not let water run when brushing teeth and shaving
    • Combine laundry loads
  • Dining Services will only serve water on request at full-service campus restaurants, and will adjust dishwashing procedures to ensure full machine loads and the most water-efficient washing methods. Dining Services earlier eliminated trays from campus dining facilities, so washing dining trays is no longer necessary.

Facts about Elon water use

Over the past few years, Elon has installed low-flow water fixtures and toilets on campus as part of the campus sustainability initiative. All laundries were equipped with Energy Star washers that conserve water as well as electricity. As a result, per capita water consumption for the 2,800 students living on campus is about 45 gallons per day. By comparison, the average per capita daily indoor consumption for U.S. families is about 69 gallons per day.

In a typical month, Elon uses approximately 3.5 million gallons of municipal water. Water usage in 2006-07 was significantly lower than the previous three years.