Many of the retrofit projects have focused on implementing low-flow water fixtures and upgrading the plumbing systems in general.
As a general practice, our campus also practices water efficient landscaping by planting native species and other low-maintenance plant varieties that do not require significant water inputs. This practice is also extended to most turf areas on campus, as no-mow zones during summer eliminates much of the need to maintain traditional turf areas. The only time we water anything, it is to establish areas of new turf or other new plantings.
In concerns of conserving water, a significant portion of water consumption has to do with running chiller units to provide air conditioning to buildings during the summer months. Therefore, an effort to properly manage indoor temperatures has a significant impact on our overall water use. Proper maintenance of these chillers also ensures that fresh water is being used efficiently.
Industrial dishwashing equipment has been replaced with models that reduced water usage by 300 gallons per minute. Another way practice the campus participates in aim to conserve water is a trayless food service. The trayless food service was introduced several years ago and has since been adopted as campus policy. This has the added benefit of reducing food waste that might have been taken if someone has a tray to use to hold extra food they end up not eating.
Several newer campus buildings utilize dual-flush toilets to help reduce the water consumption of those fixtures.
More than two hundred municipalities in Wisconsin (cities, villages, towns, and counties) within urbanized areas are required to have Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permits under NR 216, Wis. Adm. Code. UW-Whitewater must adhere to this requirement as a campus since we have large areas of impervious surfaces (parking lots, buildings, and sidewalks) and discharge storm water into the Whitewater Creek watershed. The MS4 permits require UW-Whitewater and other affected entities to reduce polluted storm water runoff by implementing storm water management programs with best management practices. Storm water management programs cover a wide array of activities.
To help facilitate public education, outreach, involvement, and participation requirements of the MS4 permit, the Rock River Stormwater Group was formed as a coalition of ten municipalities, UW-Whitewater and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) representatives. The RRSG was established to develop and implement a Stormwater Education Program to help groups fulfill the WDNR MS4 permit requirements and to promote sustainable stormwater practices in the Rock River Basin.