Spotlight on Water

If current projections hold true, enrollment in public colleges and universities in the U.S. is expected to grow by more than 15 percent each year through 2027. This means that we can expect a lot of new buildings and new construction on college campuses throughout the country.

However, one of the few things that could hamper this growth, and something school administrators must be aware of is, water. Water availability could put the brakes on all this new construction as well as future plans. College Planning & Management recently spoke with Klaus Reichardt, founder and managing partner of Waterless Co. LLC, in Vista, CA, and a frequent speaker and author on water conservation issues, to get his perspective on what must be considered when looking at water usage and conservation on campus.

Q. When it comes to ensuring future water availability, what is the first thing college administrators must do?
Appreciate water, it’s as simple as that. Historically, in the U.S., we have not given water and the availability of water much thought. We have always assumed it would be there when we need it. Even in dry areas of the country such as parts of California and the Southwest, it still is not valued as much as it should be. To appreciate water means it must be used responsibly and efficiently.

Q. Do you see this happening on university campuses?
In many ways, colleges and universities are leading the way when it comes to using water more efficiently. I recently found out that when the state of Louisiana gives money to colleges and universities to cover new campus construction, it does not always increase their operating budgets to cover utility and related costs for these new facilities. As a result, many of these new buildings have essentially been forced to use all resources, including water, very efficiently. This is also why so many of these new campus buildings are LEED-certified.

Q. Long-term, what do you believe colleges and universities must do when it comes to water?
Along with appreciating water and realizing how important it is to their future growth, colleges and universities must invest in new water technologies. These technologies are designed to do four things:
1.  Better manage water consumption
2.  Reduce water consumption
3.  Eliminate water use where possible, such as in restrooms
4.  Reduce water waste

Additionally, schools and universities should not go it alone. Using water more efficiently is a team effort. Schools should work together, sharing experience, knowledge, and technological advancements. This will help ensure they have the water resources they need to grow and what they have learned can be adapted for use in all types of facilities throughout the country.