University of Calgary

Water Awareness Day

March 20, 2009

Be Water Wise: March 22 is World Water Day

Last year the U of C used over one billion litres of potable water. That’s equivalent to emptying and filling the U of C’s Olympic sized swimming pool every 22 hours (400 times a year). The university aims to cut its potable water use in half by 2012.

March 22 is World Water Day, which is focused on drawing international attention to the critical lack of clean, safe drinking water worldwide. The U of C aims to cut its potable water use in half by 2012 compared to the 2006-07 benchmark. In order to do this:

  • Water meters have been installed in most major buildings on campus.
  • Water efficient toilets, shower heads and taps for hand washing that use 60-75 percent less water than current fixtures are employed in all new and renovation projects. Replacement of existing fixtures in restrooms is also underway and is expected to reduce annual water consumption by 100 million litres over the next two years. It is estimated that the restrooms account for almost half of U of C water consumption.
  • No potable/municipal water is used for campus grounds irrigation. River water, which is drawn from the Bow River for use in the central heating and cooling plant is either diverted back to the river or used on campus for irrigation.
  • The Child Development Centre uses the same non-potable water to flush its toilets. The new Energy, Environment and Experiential Learning building will do the same.

The university is also piloting a project to remove sediments and hydrocarbons from stormwater runoff  in Lot 1 that will begin this summer.

Water saving tips:

  • A faucet trickling only two tablespoons a minute comes to 56 litres a day. A leaking fixture can thus waste from 250 to 1,000 litres of water a week. On campus, report leaks to 403-220-7555 or  The U of C estimates that 14 percent of its potable water use comes from leaks.
  • Reducing showering time by 1 minute can save 550 litres of water a month.
  • Use a wastebasket instead of flushing that tissue and save 6-20 litres per flush. 
  • Storm drains flow directly into the Bow River with no filtering or treatment, mind what you dump on sidewalks and roads and make sure you repair oil and antifreeze leaks from your vehicle.

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