Introduction: Fresh water has been argued as the most critical resource the planet offers; its availability is plummeting due to increased human consumption. Human activity is also affecting the world’s water supply due to increased pollution such as runoff and green house gas emissions, which ultimately affect the world’s oceans. Current estimates show that a large portion of the global population is experiencing fresh water stress, ultimately caused by a much smaller portion of the human population. In an ever-changing biosphere, demand outweighs the effects of greenhouse warming on the planet in terms of fresh water shortage and raises serious concerns for the state of available fresh water in the future. (Vorosmarty et al. 2000). The University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh rests on the shores of the Fox River, a major contributor of the Fox Valley waterway, and is in close proximity to Lake Winnebago, the largest inland lake in Wisconsin. It is crucial for the university to uphold strong environmentally sound practices related to fresh water usage and storm water management. In this respect, the university should serve as a shining example, as well as offer guidance and education concerning water management to the greater community.
History as of 2007:
a. 2000-2001: Water conservation measures:
(1) Replaced 1,005 older 4.18 gallon per flush (gpf) toilets with 1.6 gpf toilets.
(2) Installed low-flow faucet restrictors on sinks throughout the campus.
These efforts resulted in savings of over 11 million gallons per year.
b. 2004-5: Replaced natural grass football field at Titan Stadium with an artificial grass surface
that requires no irrigation. This effort resulted in an estimated savings of 0.85 million gallons
c. 2005-6: Water conservation measures
(1) Retrofitted water-cooled systems at Blackhawk Commons, Scott and Gruenhagen
with air cooled equipment
(2) Replaced 63 older 4.18 gpf toilets with 1.6 gpf toilets
(3) Installed 5 waterless urinals
These efforts resulted in savings of 6 million gallons per year.
Prior to the enactment of the WPDES permit requirements, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh had undertaken the following steps related to storm water management:
a. Developed a storm water management plan (currently in final draft status, awaiting DNR
b. Performed routine semi – annual cleaning of parking lots.
c. Performed routine litter patrols of the campus
d. Required the mandatory installation of silt fences around construction sites.
Since the previous plan: UW-Oshkosh has made great strides in reducing its fresh water consumption and almost meeting it’s goal of a 50% reduction by 2012. Compared to the level of consumption in 2000, campus fresh water usage is down by 41%. This has been made possible in part by the installation of low-flow bathroom facilities. The campus has also improved its landscaping and water use to some degree, although direct use of storm water basins or ponds have not been used a landscape watering source. Also, campus water usage data or a formalized report on water waste and usage has not been addressed or reported to the campus community.
The original campus goal of reducing total suspended solids (TSS) in storm water runoff by 40% before 2013 has been met. This goal was met due to increased partnership with the City of Oshkosh and the implementation of SLAMM modeling to determine runoff levels as well as implementation of DOA/DSF erosion control guidelines and civil engineering and site work design guidelines for construction. Educational signage about “no dumping”, a website about storm water runoff, as well as regular presentations during campus events may have also contributed to meeting this goal. Recommendations not met include reducing the amount of ice-melt salts in winter as well as re-routing roof drains away from the storm sewer system into retention ponds.
(Sage Hall's green roof, planted in sedges, located above first floor lecture halls, helps to reduce storm water runoff as well as reduce our carbon footprint and considerable energy savings due to the insulation factors that accompany green roofs)