World Water Day: Accelerating change on campus

Posted on: 21 March 2023 in Issue 5

March 22nd is World Water Day, an annual campaign that highlights the importance of freshwater. Its focus is on accelerating change to solve the water and sanitation crisis.

You might be wondering why we even have a day dedicated to water, but that is exactly why we do. Most of us take our access to water for granted and it is only when our access to it is restricted do we realise how fortunate we are. 

Here in the UK we have access to clean, sanitary water that we can drink and use freely, but that is not the case everywhere. Around the world there are currently 2 billion people living without access to safe water. This means that we are currently off track to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030.

Did you know?

  • According to WHO, 1.4 million people die annually and 74 million will have their lives shortened by diseases related to poor water, sanitation and hygiene.
  • UN Water’s SDG 6 progress report, states that 72% of all water withdrawals are used by agriculture, 16 per cent by municipalities for households and services, and 12 per cent by industries. Agriculture is by far the largest consumer of water in the world. As populations grow and demand more food, we have to make farming much more efficient in its use of water.
  • According to the UN’s world water development report, power plant cooling is responsible for 43% of total freshwater withdrawals in Europe, nearly 50% in the USA, and more than 10% of the national water cap in China. This demonstrates the connection between action on water, and on climate change. The quicker we move away from water-intensive energy generation, the faster we can reduce greenhouse gases emissions and lower the pressure on water.
  • 8 billion people use or work in healthcare facilities without basic water services, according to a joint UNICEF-WHO report. This means that nearly one quarter of the world’s population work in or get treated in clinics or hospitals where the water supply is more than a 30-minute walk/queue, or is drawn from an unprotected source such as spring, river or pond.

Reducing our water consumption on campus

It is critical that we all play a part in making a change to how we use, consume and manage water, and the University’s Engineering and Contract Support Manager, Paul Bruton has been working hard to reduce our water consumption through various methods, from simple to complex.

An example of this is a collaboration with Stormsaver, which saw the installation of a rainwater harvesting system at Vine Court. With over 700 rooms, large roof area and very high daily water demand, Vine Court was an ideal location for the rain water harvesting solution. The team at Stormsaver recommended a non-pressurised rainwater harvesting system to provide a sustainable water supply to approximately 330 toilets within Vine Court.

As a result, Vine Court has managed to save over 5.5million litres of water (the equivalent of 2 and half Olympic size swimming pools) since the system installation in 2013 which is the equivalent of 1.6 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide. A similar system is in place at the Central Teaching Laboratories, and has saved over 2.25 million litres of water since 2017, which is the equivalent of 641kg of Carbon Dioxide.

Vine Court accommodation at the University of Liverpool

The University also work with HSG, who have developed a water conservation system that is installed in urinals. Although urinals are convenient, they are fundamentally flawed often presenting a variety of issues.

The eco-friendly innovation saves water by passing urine through the Ureco ‘bio-cap’ which releases a small amount of bio solution, activating an enzyme that breaks down the uric salts and limescale. This results in the formation of a harmless bacterium whilst also emitting an effective odour cancelling fragrance which eliminates the need for strong cleaning agents and chemicals. Installing the Ureco along with the solenoid valve and water management system we can reduce the flushes from the industry standard of 96 a day to 4 a day.

Between 2019 and 2022 the Ureco system has saved the University a total of 53,204,414 litres of water, £106,306 in utility bills and 22.1 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Check out the video below to learn about the science behind the Ureco.

There are plans to expand these existing water saving systems across the University, as not only do they reduce our water consumption, they also reduce our carbon emissions, helping us to become net zero by 2035.

Be the change you want to see in the world

One of the best ways to celebrate World Water Day, is to implement small behaviour changes into your daily life to reduce water consumption. Check out our top tips to save water or visit the UN’s Be the Change website to make a pledge, whether it is big or small, together we can create positive change and build a more sustainable future.

Make sure you spread the word and share your pledges on social media and tag us on InstagramTwitterLinkedIn and Facebook, using the hashtag #WorldWaterDay