Sustainability Water Working Group: Provided funding
Ecology Action: Provided grant funding
This project consists of a rainwater catchment system that will serve as the primary water source for toilet use at the Wellness Center. It is intended to be a small scale pilot project that will give the UCSC community the opportunity to monitor the effectiveness of rainwater harvesting and re-use at an industrial/educational facility and provide a working prototype for future rainwater catchment systems. The goal is to learn from this application and be able to apply it to future large-scale applications.
The location was chosen not only for the small-scale applicability but because the site is accessible to all on Campus. This project has the potential to provide many educational benefits. Already, the UCSC IDEASS students, with the help of a local engineering mentor, are doing a large portion of the calculations, design, and estimate.
We hope to increase awareness about water conservation, rainwater catchment systems, and sustainability by educating students, faculty and staff and ultimately reducing municipal water consumption and energy use.
With the use of rainwater harvesting UCSC could reduce the following:
*use of domestic water
*energy used to treat the water to drinking water standards
*energy used to pump the water to the treatment plant and then the extra pumping to reach UCSC's elevation
*chemicals used to treat domestic water
Metrics for Success:
The cost of potable water is expected to increase as energy costs increase, water demand increases with population growth, and water becomes a more scarce resource. Capturing rainfall for indoor, non-potable uses during drought years or normal rainfall years can significantly reduce water bills and energy use.
Environmental benefits: Catching rainwater that falls on our roofs and recycling it for domestic use can reduce: the amount of run-off on our streets, impact on our drainages, demand for domestic water, especially during droughts, and energy and chemicals needed to pump and treat the water for non-potable uses to potable water quality. Furthermore, rainwater that is captured and recycled on site leaves more water in the San Lorenzo River and North Coast streams during drought or normal rainfall years, improving fishery conditions.
Social benefits: Using rainwater to flush our toilets, and for other indoor, non-potable uses, will help decrease UCSC's water use during the rainy months when school is in session. As student population increases, rainwater harvesting can provide an alternate water supply and demonstrate that UCSC is doing its part to fund innovative conservation initiatives that will reduce demand on the City's water system. Students will be able to see the rainwater tanks, as well as signage by the bathrooms that indicates that toilets are flushed with rainwater, and thus they will be educated about a conservation measure that they may be inspired to take action on if they should become homeowners, property managers, or contractors.
Once installed, the Project will participate in a water quality and water use monitoring program managed by the Ecology Action. The monitoring program will evaluate the most cost-effective treatment options for meeting water quality standards for indoor, non-potable uses of rainwater, evaluate system costs and return on investment, and evaluate the potential of indoor, non-potable rainwater harvesting systems to reduce potable water demand from surface and groundwater resources.