North Carolina Universities Respond to the Drought

Gov. Mike Easley yesterday urged North Carolina residents to concentrate on water conservation efforts through the holiday season after state figures showed water usage increased in November. North Carolina continues to suffer what many folks say is the worst drought in the state’s recorded history, with local water systems serving 3.7 million people having issued mandatory water restrictions.

As a response to ongoing drought (Read Post about Durham), Duke University announced yesterday they will dedicate $5 million for water conservation projects which will pay for improvements to facility infrastructure and for new operational initiatives aimed at saving water.

How will Duke begin the program? On December 10th, Duke will give away an initial batch of 5,000 “low water flow” showerheads to Duke faculty, staff and off-campus students. Each 1.5 gallons-per-minute showerhead will save an estimated 7,300 gallons of water annually, compared to a standard 2.5 gallons-per-minute fixture.

Why is Duke important? Duke is the largest consumer of water in Durham County. Last fiscal year (ending June 30, 2007), Duke’s total water consumption was 566.4 million gallons. Nearly half of Duke’s water is used in its medical facilities. Residential housing accounts for 11 percent of Duke’s annual water use while irrigation accounts for 8 percent of Duke’s annual water use.

Not to be outdone, N.C. State and UNC-Chapel Hill are in a heated competition to save water. The competition measures the amount of water conserved in each campus residence hall. Conservation totals are based on last year’s water usage. Students living in NCSU’s residence halls currently only use 29 gallons of water per day, while students at UNC use 40 gallons of water per day.

Photo of Duke University Courtesy of Pixel Pics Blog

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