40 Gallon Challenge encourages students to help conserve water

Students are urged to participate in the 40 Gallon Water Challenge to help conserve water in Connecticut. (File photo/The Daily Campus)

University of Connecticut students can participate in the 40 Gallon Water Challenge, a voluntary water conservation program that calls for people from all over the country to reduce their water usage by 40 gallons every day.

This challenge is targeted at homeowners, but there are also ways UConn students can get involved, said Associate Dean and Associate Director for UConn Extension in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources Dr. Michael P. O’Neill.

By cutting down shower times and watching their water consumption students can make a difference, O’Neill said.

The challenge began in 2011 in Georgia and has since spread to many other states with over 10,000 pledges, according to the 40 Gallon Challenge website. The site recommends water saving practices such as converting to a low-flow faucet cap, fixing leaky toilets or running dishwashers only when they’re full.

“Just shortening your shower by two minutes would save five gallons a day,” O’Neill said.

According to O’Neill, turning off the water while brushing your teeth and not buying bottled water would also help.

“Little things, little acts can be very important,” O’Neill said. “That’s really what the 40 Gallon Challenge is about.”

O’Neill said the 40 Gallon Challenge is about making students aware and educating them so they can bring the message of water conservation home to their families.

“We’re really just trying to raise awareness about water conservation and helping people think about conserving water all the time, as opposed to just when there is a drought,” O’Neill said. “I think historically we’ve always thought, ‘Well, if there is a drought, we should save water, but if there's not, why worry about it?’ And what we’re trying to get people to do is try to conserve water every day all the time.”

O’Neill and other people working to spread the word of the 40 Gallon Challenge will have a booth at the Eastern States Exposition, nicknamed The Big E, Sept. 15. According the Big E site, it is the largest agricultural event on the east coast, so O’Neill hoped to spread the word of the 40 Gallon Challenge and how saving a little water every could make a difference to many more people.

“1,000 small acts can make a huge difference,” O'Neill said.


Molly Desrochers is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at molly.desrochers@uconn.edu.