April showers have definitely arrived and our thoughts turn to that most valuable resource: water. Don’t let that rain outside fool you! Water is still in high demand and any efforts on our part to limit water waste make a world of difference.In fact, the Water, Systems and Society (WSSS) program is holding its 3rd annual symposium on April 27 and the theme is “The Glass Half Full: Valuing Water in the 21st Century“, exploring the various complex and interlinking factors of valuing water throughout developed and developing nations.
Here at Tufts, the Campus Sustainability Council’s Water Working Group has begun reviewing current usage and existing initiatives related to water, such as the installation of rain barrels to capture roof run-off for landscape irrigation and low-flow shower heads and dual-flush toilets as part of bathroom upgrades in residence halls. The group is working towards preparing specific “SMART” goals for the university over the coming months. Feel free to submit your suggestions for any of the Council’s working groups (the other two focus on Waste and Energy/Emissions) – the Office of Sustainability will collect and summarize the suggestions on behalf the Council.
On a related note, the 24oz light blue Nalgene with a water bottle-stomping elephant on it has become a familiar sight around the Tufts Medford campus. You may recall that beginning last fall, the sale of single-serving beverages was eliminated from Hodgdon Good-to-Go, thanks to a campaign by student action group Tufts Against Plastic (TAP). Tufts Dining supported the initiative and even helped promote it by giving away the clear “Choose to Reuse” water bottle for free with the sale a fountain drink during the first two weeks of the semester. (Dining has since made the Nalgene bottles available for sale wherever plastic bottles of water are still sold and they offer a beverage discount for those who bring reusable bottles to Hodgdon Good-to-Go, Tower Café, Mugar Café, and The Commons.)
A full semester after the initial change took place, Patti Klos, Director of Dining and Business Services, estimated a reduction of over 133,000 disposable bottles per semester! That’s 73% fewer bottles from the previous school year when single-serving beverage bottles were still sold in Hodgdon. Read more about this story.
In the meantime, let’s continue to work on keeping our personal water usage to a minimum – from shortening our showers to turning off the faucet when we brush our teeth. See our Green Guide to Living and Working at Tufts for more tips on how to conserve water.
– Anne Elise Stratton
Communications Intern, Office of Sustainability
Since the official announcement from President Tony Monaco last February, members of the Campus Sustainability Council have been getting busy as each of the three working groups (focusing on Water, Energy/Emissions and Waste) began holding their regular meetings.
The Water Working Group
met for the first time on March 2nd
and reviewed its roles and responsibilities, which include reviewing current usage, existing initiatives and goals, as well as creating recommendations for goals and implementation plans to present to the Campus Sustainability Council.
The group found that very few institutions of higher education have any public water-related goals. In fact, Johns Hopkins is one of a rare few that have a specific goal (to decrease university wide potable water consumption by 3%). The members also learned that many water-saving initiatives at Tufts are already underway, including:
- Efforts to use ground water for irrigation
- Low-flow shower heads in all Medford and Boston residence halls
- Bathroom upgrades in Medford residence halls which include dual flush or low flush toilets
- On‐going Medford campus condensate loss reduction efforts
- Front Load washing machines requiring less water, energy and detergent installed in most residence hall laundry rooms
- Rain barrels installed at 520 Boston Avenue to capture roof run‐off for landscape irrigation
The working group members discussed the differences between Tufts’ campuses, regulatory and compliance issues, the environmental impact of wastewater, ways to evaluate proposed solutions and appropriate metrics for evaluation.
Scott Horsley, a lecturer in the Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning department, and Bob Burns, Director of Tufts Facilities Services, are the co-chairs of the water working group and will be working to guide the group towards specific “SMART” goals for the university over the coming months. Sustainability standards will be incorporated into all proposals for new construction and renovation projects.
As always, Tufts community members are welcome to add their own suggestions for the working group through the easy, on-line form available on the Office of Sustainability’s website.
April 12, 2012; 4 – 8:30 p.m. at Worcester State University (Agenda)
COMMUNITY STORMWATER SOLUTIONS
KEEPING STREAMS & LAKES HEALTHY
The Massachusetts Watershed Coalition is holding Community Stormwater Conference on Thursday April 12 to learn about easy ways to protect and renew local waters. EPA Region 1 Administrator Curt Spalding is the keynote speaker, and he will share stormwater updates with a focus on EPA’s Soak up the Rain Campaign that helps people cleanse polluted runoff.
Few people know that stormwater is the leading source of water pollution. Lethal runoff from roads, homes and businesses goes directly into living streams. Rapid overflow from paved areas during storms erodes streams and reduces the groundwater recharge that nourishes stream flows in dry times. Fortunately, inexpensive solutions can fix problems that damage property, harm stream life and spoil the uses of brooks, lakes and reservoirs.
Stormwater is caused by the entire community and everyone can reduce runoff to heal damages to vital waters. The meeting will feature workshops about low-cost runoff remedies, aquatic ecosystems, stormwater utilities, erosion control, porous paving, BMP performance ratings, how to disconnect streets from streams, and more. Expert speakers will supply practical guidance for municipal officials, watershed groups, lake associations, highway departments, home builders, engineers and concerned citizens, which can help to renew the health of cherished waters.
Please click here to download the meeting agenda.
The $10 registration ($5 for students) includes meeting materials and refreshments. Please register online at this website or telephone (978) 534-0379.