Water, the most essential resource for human life, next to air, is in short supply across the globe. UW-Milwaukee is fortunate to be located right along one of the Great Lakes, which encompasses 20% of the world’s available fresh water. Our School of Freshwater Science, one of only a few in the world, house freshwater expertise and research that is key to advancing Milwaukee’s reputation as a world water hub. With this in mind, our campus operations must also be in step with conservation and the needs of our community, locally and globally.
Wisconsin Energy Initiative Phase IV
Through Phase IV of a Wisconsin Energy Initiative in the year 2000, UW-Milwaukee was able to greatly reduce its water usage. Johnson Controls Inc. estimated a 46.6 million gallon reduction annually, a proposed cost savings of $142,728 per year.
Under the proposed plan, 97% of all toilets on campus, capable of cost-effective upgrades and those in need of efficiency, were to be changed over to low usage, 1.6 GPF (gallons per flush) toilets. Also, 97% of all campus faucets, capable of cost-effective retrofits, were to be converted over to 0.5, 1.0, or 1.5 GPM (gallons per minute) tamper-resistant ultra low-flow faucet restrictors. In addition, 74% of all showerheads on campus, mainly in Sandburg Hall, were to be replaced with 2.5 GPM adjustable spray showerheads.
Water conservation was also a part of our recent performance contracting (2009-2013). The toilets and faucets that were intended to be low-flow were tested to see if they really perform as intended. This assessment, building by building helped make simple adjustments to our existing low-flow units for optimal operation.
Using Water at UWM
Opportunities are most obvious by adjusting our toilets and faucets, but there also ways to save water by rethinking our behavior. Making sure a laundry machine or dishwasher is run when at capacity, turning off the water when brushing your teeth in the residence hall bathroom, or even running a shorter shower after a workout at the Klotsche Pavilion, would make an even greater difference.