Water Initiatives

Ongoing and in-progress initiatives will continue to cut Stanford’s water use, and ultimately, recycled water could become our main source of “new” water.

Technical and systems innovations designed to reduce and reuse water include:

  • Stanford researchers and SEM Water Systems Group staff are collaborating on an exciting project to test recovery of clear water, energy and valuable materials from wastewater. The new test facility located on Bonair Siding will test new wastewater technologies to demonstrate their effectiveness and full-scale implementation potential. This is a joint effort among faculty researchers from the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, the Stanford-led Engineering Research Center “Re-inventing the Nation’s Urban Water Infrastructure” (ReNUWIt), and campus sustainability practitioners in Water Services and Civil Infrastructure in Sustainability and Energy Management.
  • In early 2009, cooling tower wastewater from a new recycled water–treatment plant at Stanford’s Central Energy Facility began flowing to the new Environment + Energy Building for use in flushing toilets and other nonpotable needs. Upcoming new buildings will also use recycled water.
  • At the Central Energy Facility, one of the largest potable water users on campus, cooling tower water treatment improvements are expected to increase the degree to which we concentrate mineral content through evaporation in the cooling towers, saving 15,000 gallons per day.
  • A new parking lot on the west side of campus will incorporate permeable pavement to reduce runoff. We are installing various designs so we can determine the optimal solution.
  • Stanford is studying recapture of storm runoff to tap that water resource and more closely approximate natural drainage flows.

Stanford completed 50 major water efficiency retrofit projects from 2001 through 2008, pushing down average domestic use from 2.7 million of gallons per day (mgd) in 2000–01 to less than 2.3 mgd in 2007–08, despite campus growth.

Download the Water Conservation fact sheet - PDF

Encouraging Conservation

Technical fixes can only take us so far. Raising student, staff and faculty residents’ awareness of water conservation needs and methods — and increasing water-efficient habits — is essential: student housing, dining facilities and faculty and staff residences account for nearly 50 percent of water use.

Conservation Cup

Students have risen to the challenge with the annual Conservation Cup (formerly the Energy Bowl and Water Derby) competition between student residences to see which can cut energy and water use the most, compared with the previous spring. Organized by Student Housing and Students for a Sustainable Stanford, the contest rewards residences with the lowest energy and water use on a per-student basis.

Students for a Sustainable Stanford

Waterwise Demonstration Garden

In the faculty and staff housing area, the university created the Waterwise Demonstration Garden, with drought-tolerant plants, to illustrate and educate about alternatives to water-intensive landscaping. Outreach initiatives include providing information with water bills and promoting rebate incentives for water-efficient appliances to faculty and staff homeowners.

Additional Resources

Water efficiency at Stanford