Water equal to 40 Olympic-sized swimming pools is what Acadia University has saved in cutting the water it consumes on campus on a yearly basis by half.
Marcel Falkenham, the university’s executive director of facilities, says the school has cut its water consumption from an all-time high of 51 million gallons during the 2004-05 academic year to 25.4 million in 2018-19.
It’s a cut Falkenham says is a win not only for the environment, but for the bank, too. The university has counted $80,000 in annual savings from the program.
“Water is both a valuable resource and something we pay for. Water going down the drain is never a good thing, so we’re happy to be reducing that,” he says.
Falkenham began overseeing the reduction program in 2007, when the university’s consumption was cut by seven million gallons. He says he then resolved to see it continue decreasing each year.
"Water going down the drain is never a good thing." - Marcel Falkenham
The program continued implementing small adjustments – like fixing leaks – alongside larger overhauls of systems including water faucets, toilets and shower heads in dorm rooms and inefficient refrigeration and heating systems within all buildings, and watched as the gallons used continued to decrease in the millions.
Acadia Sustainability Office sustainability co-ordinator Jodie Noiles says the milestone is one she feels extremely proud of, especially after her own research revealed how much water is consumed in one shower without a high-efficiency fixture.
Numbers she found indicated the average length of a single shower is eight minutes, and uses around 62 litres of water, or 13,000 per year – all used by just one person.
“I just really feel it’s great that we’ve reached this number – for sustainability, and as a university. It’s important to our students that we are sustainable, and we’re showing that it’s a priority at Acadia,” she says.
Falkenham says the university will look at ways to further cut its water consumption despite the already-significant cuts, and will likely find inefficiencies in buildings such as the meal hall, athletic complex and residences.
But for now, he’s happy with what has been accomplished so far.
“We’re really happy about this. I couldn’t believe the number when I saw it, so we still have some targets, and will just continue moving in that general direction on all fronts,” he says.