UConn releases water conservation alert

University of Connecticut calls for voluntary efforts to save water in light of dry season. (File photo/ The Daily Campus)

The University of Connecticut recently released a State IA Conservation Alert calling for voluntary efforts to save water in light of this year’s dry season.

“The beginning stages like IA and IB are all voluntary for water conservation,” Katie Milardo, an analyst in the UConn Office of Environmental Policy, said. “Then when we get into the later stages, two, three and four, those are more mandatory stages that we ask our customers to follow.”

Students are encouraged to conserve water by taking shorter showers, washing laundry with full loads and reporting leaks to maintenance among other actions that can be found in the alert report.

“Typically, in our voluntary and our mandatory stages, we ask the students, staff and faculty to be cognizant and aware of their water usage,” Milardo said.

According to the most recent alert, UConn “is committed to operating an environmentally sustainable water supply.”

Milardo said there have been seasonal alerts put out the last four years to protect the rivers from environmental issues like running dry. In addition to the most recent alert, the university issued alerts in September 2015 and June 2016.

“Last year when we had that extreme drought, we went all the way to stage three,” Milardo said.

Milardo said that UConn monitors the two rivers it pumps from because the university has its own system. She said UConn stops using the Fenton River when an IA alert is issued to maximize the larger Willimantic River source.

“This is a unique situation because, here at UConn, we have our own water supply,” Milardo said.

According to a 2016 UConn Water Quality Report, UConn decreased the average daily water demand by 30 percent over the last 11 years. The reduction was accomplished through infrastructure and operational changes.

Milardo said that UConn Facilities finished a major project last year that installed low flow faucets, shower heads and toilets in all residential and academic buildings. She said there have already been noticeable changes in the amount of water being used.

Milardo said the Reclaimed Water Facility works to treat wastewater and send it back into buildings for cooling systems and toilets. The new Engineering and Science Building and the new Innovation Partnership Building are both using recycled water.

“We’re using reclaimed (water) everywhere we can,” Milardo said.

Milardo credits the UConn community for keeping the rivers flowing and the local environment stable.

“The bulk of campus is students and faculty and staff, so without them helping out and doing this voluntary (work)... we wouldn’t be here where we are,” Milardo said.


Nicholas Hampton is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at nicholas.hampton@uconn.edu.