NCSU works to improve water conservation

January 9, 2008 5:06:34 PM PST
There are more questions about the worsening drought and conservation efforts around the region.

One argument is raging on the N.C. State campus -- presumably one of the biggest water users in Raleigh.

University officials say they're doing a lot to conserve. Some professors say it's not nearly enough.

The Rain Garden on NCSU's campus shows the best of water conservation efforts on campus. When it rains, a sidewalk serves as a gutter and channels water into a retention pond.

A week after the Triangle's last rain, there's still plenty of water in the pond to feed the plants around it. But the campus is still a long was from being water frugal.

The new buildings on N.C. State's campus have the latest in water saving features. Even some of the old buildings have newer faucets, but the fixtures are not low-flow devices. And a few of the old ones, it seems, flow 24/7.

"We're behind the curve," NCSU Professor Will Hooker said.

Hooker is a horticulture professor and has a love-hate relationship with university administrators.

"They have not committed fully to the issues of sustainability, drought being one of them, and I think they could do more," Hooker said.

Jack Colby, vice chancellor for NCSU Facility Operations, says the professor "is a good friend and colleague and he acts as a conscience on sustainability for the university."

Colby says there a campus-wide effort to save water outside and inside of building and it's working.

"We're now saving over a half a million gallons of water a day due to all the efforts of our students and staff and faculty," Colby said.

The vice chancellor says N.C. State's total consumption of water has been reduced by one-third over last year.

He says that's thanks to programs like a leak hotline. But in one bathroom with a leaky faucet, there was not hotline number posted.

Colby admits the university could do more and says it will. Professor Hooker says he'll welcome a bigger effort.

"If every single person on campus took personal responsibility for using less water we would save a lot of water," Hooker said. "And I don't think that awareness is out across the campus."

Professor Hooker says N.C. State is not doing as much for conservation as its rival, UNC.

The chancellors of the two universities turned that into a student challenge at the UNC-NC State football game.

In March, we'll find out which campus wins.


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