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I. Introduction

Although the university’s water supply appears to be in no danger of drying up, increased water conservation will help to maintain a plentiful water supply in the future, conserve the energy and chemicals needed for treatment and purification, as well as save the university money in a time of fiscal uncertainty.

II. Responsible Parties

  • Facilities Management manages water usage and water fixtures under the supervision of the Director, Steve Arndt.
  • The General Accounting Controller, Gary Moeller oversees payment to the utilities and is responsible for storing the records and receipts from the utility from which the following data was derived.
  • Oshkosh Water and Sewerage Utilities meet the campus’ water and sewer needs. Steve Brand is currently the superintendent of the utility service.
  • The City of Oshkosh Wastewater Treatment Plant treats all of the University’s wastewater and storm runoff. Thomas Kruzick is currently the superintendent of the plant.

III. Water Management at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

A. Water Usage

Oshkosh students and faculty consume water from Lake Winnebago. The water is taken from the lake by intake pipes into a pretreatment basin located near Menomonee Park in Oshkosh. The newly built City of Oshkosh Water Treatment Plant uses a number of processes to ensure the safety of the drinking water including; sedimentation, filtration, ozone oxidation, and disinfection with chloramine. The use of ozone is a relatively new step with only Milwaukee, Green Bay, and Oshkosh having the technology so far in the state.

The University consumed 10,259,100 ft3 or 76,738,068 gallons of water during the 2001-2002 school year. The water, which was used for a wide variety of uses, costed $456,806.34 at a rate of between $2.26 per 100ft3 and $2.74 per 100ft3 depending on the amount consumed. The University is billed separately for each building. A more detailed analysis is available in the appendix. The locations with highest consumption of water are Scott Hall at 17% of total water consumption or 17,111ft3, Gruenhagen Hall at 11% or 10,862ft3, and Blackhawk Commons at 7% or 7,287ft3. A pie chart denoting each building’s usage is included in the appendix. Usage per square foot is 26ft.

Overall water usage at the University is shown in the graph below. The summer of 2002 increase was in part due to the fact that when the Central Chiller Plant was brought into operation last spring, it had a bad design feature that has since been fixed. Initially when it began to be put into use it was not operating properly and about 2,000 gallons of water were lost from the cooling tower each time the chiller shut down. The unit was shut down about three to four times a week, which adds up to a lot of water.

The University's Total Water Usage

(enlarge graph)

The cost data over the last 4 years shows a large increase starting in 1998 that peaks in about 2000 and then tapers off to near 1998 levels in 2002. During 1999, 2000, and 2001 the University had three very large construction efforts, totaling about 45 million dollars, in progress (Reeve Union/Blackhawk Commons Renovation, Halsey Science Renovation, and the Central Chiller Installation), which could account for the sharp increase during these time periods.

Total Water Service Cost for UW Oshkosh

(enlarge graph)

Download data (excel charts)

Water Use at Blackhawk Commons
Water Use at Elmood Commons
Water Use at the Heating Plant by Quarter
University's Total Water Usage
Water Use at Polk Library

Total Water Service Cost for the UW OShkosh
Total Water Service Cost by Quarter

Dowload (pdf files)

Energy Conservation Opportunities (ECOs )
A Stormwater Utility For Oshkosh
Oshkosh Watermaster Treatment Plant Process Guide
City of Oshkosh Watermaster Treatment Plant
City of Oshkosh Watermaster Treatment Plant 2002 Stats.
Water Use Table

Overall water usage on outdoor facilities has never been monitored. However, water consumption during the summer months is very close to the consumption of the school year months. A detailed table of water consumption by location is available in the appendix with the buildings that have considerable increases in the summer months highlighted.

The University does not currently have a formal, written water conservation policy or program. However, in 2001 Johnson Controls, a leader in energy management helped the university to realize substantial energy and water savings through an audit process, which identified the universities conservation opportunities. To meet its conservation goals toilets and sinks in various buildings underwent retrofits to less water consuming fixtures. 924 toilets were replaced with 1.6 Gallon Per Flush (GPF) ultra low flow toilets or retrofit to met the Wisconsin plumbing code requirement for new fixtures of 1.6 GPF. 326 faucets were retrofit with 0.5 Gallons Per Minute (GPM) faucet restrictors and 855 faucets were retrofit with 1.5 GPM faucet restrictors. In the academic buildings alone the university saved 11,223,611 gallons and $60,046 in water in sewer savings. In the residence halls the university was able to save 13,258,687 gallons of water and $70,939 thanks to this conservation program. In total, the university saved 24,482,298 gallons of water in just one year and $130,985 was made available to the university for other programs resulting from its concern about water conservation.

B. Wastewater and Storm Runoff

All wastewater and storm runoff from the University is treated at the Wastewater Treatment Plant operated by the City of Oshkosh. It is located very near to the campus at 233 N. Campbell Road. The Plant is an activated sludge plant providing secondary treatment along with nitrogen and phosphorus removal. The average daily flow to the plant is 12 million gallons per day. The plant is designed for a peak daily operating flow of 20 million gallons per day. Even though the city has a separate storm sewer system, occasionally heavy rain may infiltrate the sanitary sewer system and find its way to the treatment plant. In extreme cases the plant can handle 120 million gallons for only one hour. The treated water is discharged into the Fox River.

Wastewater residuals are anaerobically digested and centrifuge dewatered prior to disposal. The dewatered sludge, totaling 6,972 tons in 2002, is stored at a rural location for up to 180 days and disposed on agricultural land. A 20-year contract with Potratz-Potratz governs the cost and routine operations of sludge transportation, storage, and land application on Poratz farmed land.

The University produced 76.7 million gallons of wastewater during the 2001-2002 school year (an average of 210,241 gallons per day), assuming that the amount of water that is reused on campus is virtually 0. The University’s wastewater accounts for approximately 1.75% of the plants total wastewater inflow.

Sewer cost is determined by volume based on a rate of $2.20 per 100 ft3, excluding the fixed quarterly facilities charge for each meter. Total cost for the sewer water utility last year based on this rate is $225,700.20.

To date no programs have been initiated to reduce wastewater volume and/or toxicity.

IV. Water Management at Other Universities

Brown University has initiated several programs to conserve their water. A retrofit of low-flow showerheads was completed in all their dormitories and a retrofit project of 190 fixtures was completed in all athletic facility buildings. Students at Brown University have also done an environmental audit and estimated the potential savings of comprehensive retrofit measures. On the basis of the students' estimate that 34% savings are possible by continuing the types of conservation measures Brown has been implementing, Brown could save approximately 120 million gallons of water (160,000 ft3) annually after all measures are completed. This could equate to annual savings of nearly $300,000. More information about Brown University’s efforts is available here.

V. Recommendations

For Administration:

  • A comprehensive water conservation program should be developed to decrease water use and the associated costs. An online example of a well-written long-term water conservation program can be found at the University of Virginia Facilities Management website.
  • It would be beneficial for the University implement a policy requiring that water be conserved whenever possible. An example of this can be found at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. The objectives of the policy they provide are to: o promote water conservation and progressively reduce per capita consumption
  • Reusing gray water can reduce demand for water and should be considered in areas where there are no strict minimum water quality standards or where the quality of the gray water considered for use is especially high.
  • Landscaping with plants that need little water saves fertilizers and labor in addition to saving water. Using indigenous plants can save more than 50% of the water normally needed to care for other more exotic species. Also, plants could be grouped based on similar water needs allowing for efficient applications of water for landscaping purposes.

For Faculty and Staff:

  • Teach students about the importance of water conservation in Wisconsin.
  • Report any leaks or dripping faucets to Facilities Management.
  • Conserve water when using bathroom or laboratory facilities.

For Students:

  • Conserve water when using bathroom and kitchen facilities.
  • Report any leaks or dripping faucets to Facilities Management.
  • Use biodegradable shampoos and soaps.

 

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University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Last update: October 10, 2003
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2003