Monday, July 28, 2008

West Georgia Excels in Water Conservation

Water conservation is still a hot topic as government agencies grapple on how to conserve water during the dry summer months. The 10-month state mandate on water conservation continues and so does the University of West Georgia’s highly successful water conservation program.

UWG has exceeded the state’s mandate for reduction of water consumption despite record enrollment numbers and a continuing drought. Since Gov. Sonny Perdue gave the executive order for state institutions to reduce water consumption by 10 to 15 percent last October, UWG has complied by 39 percent for the month of November and has maintained an average monthly reduction of 23 percent in water consumption.

The university’s water conservation plan began years before the mandate and that is one reason for the university’s success, said Robert Watkins, director of facilities.

“The university has been proactive in conserving resources with a goal of sustainability on this campus and in the community,” said Watkins. “We have succeeded on many levels and look forward to the new academic year with more successes under our belts.”

In response to the governor’s mandate, UWG implemented additional conservation initiatives that include postponing landscaping projects, extensive training of UWG staff in water conservation, a change in dish washing and food disposal in food services and discontinuing washing state fleet vehicles. UWG crews also increased surveys of university water fountains, faucets and other plumbing for leaks and repaired the equipment as needed.

In 2005, the university’s energy and resource conservation program intensified after an Ad Hoc Energy Conservation Committee formed in response to a request from UWG President Beheruz N. Sethna. For several months the group met to assess ways to reduce natural gas, electric and water usage throughout the campus.

"I am very proud of our water management,” said Sethna. “From the entire spectrum of finding aquifers through the exceptional work of Dr. Randy Kath and our other geosciences faculty twenty years ago to the present day conservation efforts headed by Facilities and Grounds and then the implementation by faculty, staff and students of the University of West Georgia. Water conservation is a way of life at this campus.”

As a result of the committee’s findings, West Georgia began a progressive conservation program that has saved thousands of dollars in energy costs and hundreds of thousands of gallons in water resources.

In addition to the successful conservation efforts on campus, West Georgia’s conservation efforts are being realized off campus. The university has partnered with the city of Carrollton and using one of several artesian wells operating on campus, a water usage agreement allows the city to take 15,000 gallons of water daily, an amount that totals 300,000 gallons a month. Dan Lewis, coordinator of Business and Finance development, said it is a service gladly given to university neighbors.

“This is a way West Georgia helps its community,” said Lewis, who posts a UWG Energy Report each month on the university website. “The wells are a tremendous resource and thanks to those professors in our geosciences department that helped to locate these resources, we are able to utilize them on and off campus.”

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