Imagine a Cube of Water...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Photo credit: Jonathan Rausseo

So it turns out that I got a lot of questions from my last post about just how much water we use on campus. We I didn't mention the total amount because I figured everyone would know once the annual report was published.

611,044 cubic meters of water. That's how much we consume on campus every year. This averages out to 1.7 Million litres of water every day. A lot of people have a tough time visualizing this, hence the little picture up above. If you can imagine a cube of water that is 12 meters long, by 12 meters deep, by 12 meters high... that's how much water we use daily. The average person is just under 2 meters tall.

The big culprits on campus for water consumption are basically exactly who you would expect.
  1. Research equipment - Aquatic tanks, chemistry experiments, and so forth really gobble up the water. But this is a tough category to calm when you consider that fact that the University's bread and butter is research. Luckily equipment is becoming more and more efficient. Recently, a wonderful little scheme to recycle "pure water" at the Roger Guidon was cooked up. Our fingers are crossed to see if we can repeat this in other labs.

  2. Sports facilities - The University boasts an Olympic sized swimming pool and several skating rinks. It's not hard to see how water is consumed by these facilities; nevertheless, there isn't much that can be done to use less water here. I mean an empty pool isn't very sporting.

  3. Domestic water - This is just a fancy word for the water in showers, toilets, and sinks. This is actually the category with the most potential but that could require the most effort. Think about, if I want to get individuals to take shorter showers, I have to convince thousands of people to do it. Recently the University installed a bunch of 3 liter toilets around campus, but more needs to be done. My hopes are all hung up with trapping rain water right now.

Not being one for too much doom and gloom, I thought I would share some simple solutions with you. Now remember, these are campus specific things so don't try this at home... naw I'm just kidding, of course you can do some of these at home.
  1. Let the heat climb a little higher in the summer time and get a little lower in the winter. Heating a cooling on campus works by moving hot and cold water around to the areas that need it. By not being so quick to run to the thermostat, we you help reduce our water consumption. The added bonus is that you save some energy too.

  2. For guys, use urinals. They use 0.5 L compared to our most efficient toilets at 3 L (most are 6 L though). And if you are at home... if it's yellow, let it mellow. You could try this on campus but I don't think it will work out quite as well.

  3. Report leaks, every leak. Even if it is just a faucet that is dripping a little too much for your liking. Call 2222 and tell the operator. Dripping faucets don't seem like much but multiply it out out over thousands of faucets and were are talking some serious volume.

Some people have asked me if our water has gone up because of the ban of bottled water. Technically yes, but I think that in this case it is worth it. But if you press me hard enough I am sure that I could prove that using fountains saves water. Next post I will try to review some of the really cool water saving features that we have on campus.

For more about what the University of Ottawa does to conserve water, check out the website.


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