June: Water Use

From residential spaces to laboratories, from grounds to the power plants, water is an essential resource on our campus. Given the size and the nature of our demands, Yale’s water consumption and discharge to the sewer system can have a significant impact on the local watershed.

By focusing on the water system as a whole - “from the ground to the sound” - Yale is working to make its water use more sustainable. 

To reduce potable water use, Yale is currently in the process of implementing a three-year Water Management Plan for continuous improvements in water use in buildings, power plants, and irrigation systems. How will you help us reach our goal to reduce potable water use on campus 5% below 2013 levels by June 2016?

Learn about water use at Yale.

Sustainable choices you can make…

Reduce potable water consumption at Yale
Many of Yale’s buildings have low-flow fixtures to reduce water use, and some even have reclaimed gray water systems that collect rainwater and condensate to re-use for purposes like toilet flushing and irrigation. Even so, Yale’s campus consumes over 400 million gallons of potable water per year.  

Tip: Approximately 50% of Yale’s water consumption is used for generating chilled water for cooling campus buildings. Help save water by turning up your thermostat 1-2 degrees during the summer in occupied spaces and 5-10 degrees in unoccupied spaces.

Reduce potable water consumption at home
The average American family of four uses 400 gallons of water per day. On average, approximately 70% of that water is used indoors, with the bathroom being the largest consumer (a toilet alone can use 27%!). [1]

Tip: Consider a low flow shower head. They can save enough water and energy to pay for themselves within about a year.

Protect our watershed
Run-off from excessive fertilizer and pesticide use on lawns and gardens is one of Connecticut’s most common source of water pollution. New Haven is part of the Quinnipiac River watershed, so every time it rains, surface run-off drains into both the Quinnipiac and Mill Rivers, which then empties into the Long Island Sound. An estuary of national significance, Long Island Sound is used for fishing, transport, recreation, and education. [2] The discharge of pollutants into the Sound is a threat to the health of the plants and animals that live in it and to those of us who swim in it!

Tip: Read this guide to learn about sustainable lawn-care practices specific to Connecticut and low-input alternatives to a conventional lawn.

1 ”Indoor Water Use in the United States.” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. <http://www.epa.gov/WaterSense/pubs/indoor.html>
2 “Long Island Sound – By the Numbers.” Long Island Sound Study. <http://longislandsoundstudy.net/about-the-sound/by-the-numbers>

Additional Resources

Learn more about how Yale is addressing water issues on campus.

On June 17 at 12:30pm in Kroon Hall, join artists, environmental activists, and community experts involved in saving New Haven’s own waterways for a discussion on the intersection of performance, science, and activism. This free event is part of the International Festival of Arts and Ideas.

Learn about Yale research on the Connecticut River Watershed and coastal salt marshes.

Learn how Environment Connecticut is working to protect the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound.

Use Cornell’s Lawn Care Water Quality Almanac to find sustainable lawn care tips for each month. (If you do fertilize your lawn, you should apply your first treatment in the first week of June, and then not fertilize again until Labor Day.)

The EPA’s WaterSense label designates products that use water efficiently, and can save you money as a result. Browse for WaterSense labeled products.

Use the Water Usage Calculator to see how many gallons your household consumes and set a reduction goal.

Learn why a clean face shouldn’t mean dirty water, 10 things you didn’t know about microbeads.