World Water Day 2017

22 March 2017

Are you aware of your water footprint?

Did you know that we use around 1.7 million litres of water every single day on our campus? Besides for domestic consumption, water on campus is also highly used in ANU laboratories and for other research and business related activities as well as for the irrigation purposes, which altogether sets ANU as one of the largest water consumers in ACT.

Today ANU is joining the global community in celebrating World Water Day on which occasion we were once more reminded on how critical fresh water is for life on Earth as well as how limited our resources are. Concerns about water conservation have earlier prompted ANU to set some water saving goals with the ultimate goal of decreasing ANU water footprint by 50% by 2020 compared to 2014 level.

In line with the latter, in 2016 ANU Facilities & Services Division rolled out smart metering system across the campus in order to help gain both water and cost savings through automatic alarms and reports. The project resulted with immediate savings - preliminary findings from the loggers identified leakages across the campus that could potentially save close to $300,000 per year for ANU.

Another bright example of how ANU reduced the water consumption were the repairs that were made in a Graduate House in March last year where the overnight flow rate dropped down by as much as 4 times, from 20 litres per minute to 5 l/min just by fixing all the leaks and drips. It is worth to mention that due to these and some other activities that were undertaken through last decade, ANU water consumption have been cut down by 26% compared to 2006.

More than one-quarter of all bottled water comes from a municipal water supply – the same place that tap water comes from. When it comes to quality, the ACT tap water is of the highest quality in Australia and can be drunk straight from the tap. That is the reason why ANU have installed multiply water stations across the campus and is encouraging its patrons to use them as much as possible instead of buying bottled water.

However, when it comes to water usage on a national level, Australia is not much different than for example United States – average US resident consumes around 380 litres daily whereas Australians will use around 340 litres, ranging, depending on the location, from as little as 100 litres per person in some coastal areas to more than 800 litres per person in the dry inland areas. Here are some other related interesting facts, some of them quite hard to believe:

  • A five-minute shower can use up to 200 litres of water
  • You use 8 litres to flush a toilet – about the same as you use to brush your teeth
  • It takes 200 litres of water to produce the coffee beans for one cup of coffee
  • It takes 15,000 litres of water to produce 1 kg of beef
  • It takes 100 litres to make 2 slices of bread and 65 litres to make the cheese filling in your sandwich
  • It takes 150 litres of water to make one pint of beer
  • A kilo of cotton – enough for a shirt and a pair of jeans – needs 10,000 litres of water to produce.*

Even though ANU has achieved significant results, we as a whole community should be mindful of our water usage and work together on reducing the consumption. There are many things that you as an individual could do; for example check if your taps, shower heads or cisterns are leaking and if yes, report that to your building custodian. We can all contribute to ANU’s commitment to run a sustainable and environment-friendly campus and prove again why ANU is the leading Australian university.