Water-related uses account for 19% of California's electricity, 30% of its natural gas and 88 billion gallons of diesel fuel every year. Water-efficiency measures can reduce water and sewer costs by up to 30 percent. Significant savings in energy, chemical and maintenance expenses often follow.
It is important to make sure you can answer the following questions about schools and district headquarters, and learn about available resources.
Improve Your Water Conservation Awareness
Things To Know
- How much water is each school using now and for what purpose?
- How much does each school pay for water?
- Do you know how to read the school's water meter?
Conduct a School Water Audit
A complete understanding of a school's water use is needed to identify potential water efficiency opportunities. A water audit is the process that identifies the quantities, characteristics, and uses of all water on the site. Call your local water utility to determine whether or not they provide water audit services.
Spread the Word About Water Conservation Awareness
Ideas to Get Started
- Incorporate water conservation policy and procedures into training programs.
- Use office communications (staff meetings, e-mail, newsletters) to transmit ideas, policies, progress reports and achievement announcements.
- Include financial savings resulting from water conservation programs in progress and achievement announcements.
Encourage Employee Participation
- Adopt a water conservation policy. Provide background information about the water conservation policy and its implications for school operations.
- Continually emphasize the need for individual responsibility as part of a team effort to reduce water consumption.
Initiate an Employee Water Conservation Program
Provide water efficiency information to employees so they can incorporate water efficient practices into classroom activities. Make sure there is a contact person within the district for water conservation questions.
Establish Incentives For Water Conservation
- Recognize and reward those schools and classrooms who submit water-saving ideas.
- Allocate water and sewer costs to each individual school to create responsibility for water efficiency.
- Organize and promote water conservation competitions between schools.
Actions To Take At Schools
Detect and Repair Leaks At Schools
One way to detect leaks is to shut down all water-using facilities for some time period and read the water meter before and after. Did the reading change at all? Are there dripping faucets, toilet tanks that don't seal, or leaking hoses? Toilet tanks can be checked with a few drops of food coloring. After 15 minutes without flushing, does any color show up in the bowl? Given that a leaky toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water per day, repair running or leaking toilets as soon as possible.
Install Water Efficient Devices
Install the following devices at schools where appropriate – faucet aerators, low flow showerheads, on-off valves on showerheads or hoses, toilet tank displacement devices, low-flow or vacuum flush toilets, and/or water-efficient chillers. As appliances wear out, replace them with water-saving models.
Eliminate Unnecessary Water Use Outside
Does water from sprinkler systems reach the plants that need it or does much of it evaporate in the air or run off? Evaporation is especially high for sprinklers that make small droplets, spray them high into the air, and operate during the hottest part of the day. Are some plants getting more water than they need? Could drought-resistant landscaping provide an equally attractive look?
- Avoid runoff. Set sprinklers to cover only lawn or garden, not sidewalks, driveways, or gutters.
- Mulch around plants and trees to retain moisture and prevent weeds.
- Minimize lawns. Lawns use more water than any other landscape plants. Install rubberized turf or native grasses that are drought tolerant instead.
- Use drip and other low-flow irrigation devices.
- Employ electronic controllers with precise individual timing, multiple irrigation zones, multiple cycles, and attach smart landscaping irrigation equipment such as rain shut-off devices, moisture sensors, and weather based irrigation controllers.
- Use Xeriscape landscaping. Xeriscape landscaping combines planning and design, soil analysis, selection of suitable plants, practical turf areas, efficient irrigation, use of mulches, and appropriate maintenance in landscaping. Contact your local nursery to obtain more information about xeriscape ("zeer-i-skape") landscaping.
It is important to know what you, as an educator, can do to help both students and faculty conserve water resources.
Saving Water At School
Designate a Water Efficiency Coordinator
Choose at least one school employee to manage all conservation ideas, conservation discussions with school officials and any meetings related to water conservation.
Educate Students About Water Conservation
Educate students on water conservation measures like turning off water while washing hands, brushing teeth and doing dishes. Click here to be directed to a water education website with materials for educators.
Establish a ‘Water-Saving Idea Box’
Encourage all school employees and students to submit ideas. Respond to each suggestion offered.
Students can help conserve water by doing a variety of things.
What Students Can Do To Help Save Water
Post Water Conservation Signs
Ask teachers if you can create and post water conservation stickers, signs and posters in bathrooms, the cafeteria, classrooms and other places where students congregate.
Plant an Eco-Friendly Garden
Ask your teacher if you can retrofit your school's existing landscaping. Replace plants that need a lot of water with native plants adapted to local climate and rainfall.
Be On the Look-Out For Wasted Water
Tell your teacher to alert the custodian/building engineer if you see any leaky faucets, drinking fountains or toilets.
California Department of Water Resources developed detailed tip sheets to increase water efficiency and conservation.
EPA WaterSense offers water efficiency information, educational materials and a water savings and energy calculator.
Energy and Water: Conservation Suggestions for California's Elementary and Secondary Schools is a guide developed by the California State Department of Education and includes steps to conserve water.
California Department of Water Resources developed a water education website with materials for educators.