Water levels on campus remain steady


The Fenton River, located in the UConn Forest, is a large water source for the University’s infrastructure (Nicholas Hampton/The Daily Campus)

Water levels at the University of Connecticut appear to be stable at this point in the year, UConn Water & Compliance Manager Katie Milardo said, with no indications for a drought or necessary water restrictions.  

“This past summer we’ve actually been fortunate enough to have a lot of rain events, so we haven’t had to issue any [conservation notices] yet,” Milardo said.

The steady rain has allowed for UConn’s water sources to remain at a stable level. There have been no official conservation notices directed towards students, Milardo said.

Droughts have been an issue for UConn in previous years, with water advisories being issued in 2016 and almost issued in 2017.  

“Typically, we start watching our river levels closely towards the irrigation season in late spring, early summer and all the way into fall,” Milardo said. “Often times we will have to issue water conservation notices when the river levels drop to a certain lower point.”

The water on campus comes from two main sources, the Fenton River Well Field and the Willimantic River Well Field, both of which are owned by UConn, Milardo said.

“We also recently had an interconnection with Connecticut Water, so we have additional water flowing,” Milardo said.

The new interconnection between Connecticut Water and UConn is a result of growth on campus, as well as the buildup of Storrs Center in recent years, Milardo said.

“We also have a reclaimed water facility here on campus,” Milardo said. “We use the reclaimed water in some of our newer buildings as well as our CoGen plant.”

According to the Office of Environmental Policy website, “the Reclaimed Water Facility uses a tertiary treatment process for the university’s waste water. This process uses microfiltration and ultraviolet disinfection, which will allow UConn to divert a maximum of one million gallons of non-potable – not drinkable – water each day to meet the campus needs that don’t require fresh water.”

For students looking to reduce their own water conservation, there are a variety of ways to do so, Milardo said.

“Some things that we will often ask students to do are shutting off your faucet when you are brushing your teeth, making sure that when you are doing laundry, you are doing full loads of laundry, not just half or smaller loads; not necessarily watering or irrigating when you don’t need to; washing cars… just simpler things like that,” Milardo said.

A major water-saving strategy implemented on campus has been changing water fixtures to low-flow alternatives, Milardo said.

“One of the newer things that Facilities has been doing the past few years is going through the residence halls and buildings and changing the water fixtures, so faucets, low flow flushing toilets, shower heads, so that has really made a positive impact on our water conservation use,” Milardo said.

In 2005, the Fenton River reached an incredibly low water level that led to the implementation of more water conservation strategies on campus, Milardo said. 

“That is kind of what kicked off a lot of the water conservation awareness and really had UConn look at our water usage and things we could do to prevent that from happening again,” Milardo said.

EllieAnn Lesko is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can reached via email at ellieann.lesko@uconn.edu.

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