Sometimes the availability of water belies how precious it is as a resource. At uni, we can get as much water as we want just by turning on a tap. It’s the same at home, though we rarely have the opportunity to learn how our own behaviour is helping with more sustainable outcomes. At UNSW, we want to change all that.
5 things you can do
- Report leaking taps or toilets to FM Assist on ext 55111. A dripping tap can waste more than 24,000 litres a year - more than an average household uses in one month.
- Keep a jug next to the sink and collect water when you're waiting for the hot or cold to come through - use the water on plants in the office.
- Wait until the dishwasher is full before using it and be sure to use the rinse setting on the dishwasher rather than rinsing dishes under the tap first.
- Take showers of less than five minutes. If you shower every day, two minutes should be enough.
- Save water by switching off taps (or the shower) when lathering up with soap, then rinse when you’re ready.
Protecting our water supplies
We aren't waiting for another water crisis. At UNSW, we want to dramatically reduce the amount of pure drinking water (potable) wasted each year on non-essential services such as flushing toilets and air conditioning. We are acting now to protect our city in the future. Already hundreds of bathroom toilets are flushed with bore water and approximately half of our air conditioning uses the same bore water drawn from the Botany Sands aquifer.
Sustainable water programs
The lower part of the Kensington campus is situated over the Botany Basin aquifer, an extensive natural water resource running from near Centennial Park to Botany Bay. An agreement with Sydney Water permits us to extract 200ML of bore water from the aquifer each year, which overall yields approximately 22.5GL per year.
Bore water is primarily used for irrigation of the grounds, but we are increasingly using it to replace potable water applications including chemical labs, toilet blocks and construction activities. It supplies approximately 90% of irrigation requirements, 20% of toilet flushing and 5% of industrial commercial processes.
Aquifer recharge project
We have also designed and built a large-scale Aquifer Recharger under the oval. This stormwater project has a chamber constructed under the Village Green, which acts as a stormwater retention tank and catches 70% of the stormwater on campus (equivalent to 64 Olympic swimming pools). The collected stormwater is fed back into the Botany Sands aquifer and subsequently sourced for 40% of the total campus water demand.
Where potable water is used, water efficient fixtures have been retrofitted to minimise water consumption including:
- AAA-rated showerheads
- dual flush toilets with 6/3 flush capacity
- timed flow taps and aerators
- hydropathic units with 4L/min flow rate in new labs
- installation of waterless urinals and timed-flow taps (each tap saves an estimated 20,000 litres of water a year)
- underground leak detection in pipes. Leaks are estimated to contribute approximately 10% of our total potable water consumption at UNSW.
UNSW Sustainability also works closely with the Facilities Management to promote and implement water saving opportunities. Further information about water management initiatives is provided on the Facilities Management website