7 Water Management Strategies for Schools and Universities

Female teacher sitting at her desk with a picture of an Atlas on the wall behind her as she discusses water management strategies for schools and universities

Approximately 71% of the Earth's surface is water found in rivers, oceans, lakes, and glaciers. Yet over 785 million people worldwide still lack safe drinking water. A significant reason for this insufficiency is poor water management strategies. 

Government facilities, like educational institutions, are working to improve the quality of drinking water in schools while also facilitating conservation efforts. Innovative technologies and programs are now available to educate people to ensure the success of these efforts.

If you want to improve water management strategies at schools and universities, these seven recommendations will help you develop a better system of processes. 


Key Takeaways:

  • Only 5.8 billion people have access to safely managed water services. By 2050 half of the world's population will live in water-scarce areas.
  • Metering and measuring a facility's water usage will assist in analyzing conservation opportunities. It ensures fixtures and fittings are working properly to prevent waste.
  • Replacing restroom and kitchen fixtures in schools and universities can help facility managers monitor usage, adjust flow rates, and reduce water consumption.
  • Consider using a recirculating chilled water system instead of a single-pass cooling unit. You can reduce water use by 80%, resulting in millions of gallons of water preservation.
  • Cooling towers provide A/C but use copious quantities of water. Optimizing water blowdown and evaporation ratios will reduce the level of water these machines require.

7 Water Management Strategies for Educational Facilities  

Roughly 5.8 billion people live in places that have safely managed drinking water services. Water is a rapidly depleting natural resource; by 2050, half of the world's population will live in water-scarce areas. 

Infograph of water scarcity prediction for 2050


Conservation is the top priority when it comes to water. Following these water management best practices will ensure your facility is doing its part in water preservation.

1. Meter and Measure 

You can analyze saving opportunities by meeting and measuring your facility's water usage. It also ensures the equipment is running properly and correctly maintained to promote water conservation. Prevent water waste from malfunctioning fixtures and leaks by monitoring your facility's water use.

2. Control Reverse Osmosis System Operation

A facility's water consumption can be from the multiple-step process of developing deionized (DI) purified water via reverse osmosis (RO). You can achieve water savings by carefully regulating the rates of water purification. 

For example, the Environmental Science Center of the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) in Fort Meade, Maryland, conserves roughly 1.5 million gallons of water and over $5,000 in water costs annually. The Agency does this by reducing RO system operations from 24 hours to a mere 12 hours each day. 

3. Replace Facility Fixtures   

In the 1990s, the EPA established federally recognized water-efficiency standards. Prior to that, plumbing fixtures were inefficient. Some toilets used several gallons of water per flush. Now, water-efficient toilets use 1.28 to 1.5 gallons per flush. There are completely waterless urinal systems. 

Metering touchless faucets help facility managers like you promote efficiency. Designing a completely touchless commercial restroom encourages better hygiene and reduces contact with contaminated surfaces. 

Consider fixtures with the WaterSense® label. These water-efficient products include:

  • WaterSense labeled urinals that use 0.5 gallons per flush (GPF)
  • WaterSense labeled showerheads with a flow rate of 2 (or less) gallons per minute (GPM)
  • Water-efficient toilets with flow rates of 1.28 to 1.6 GPF
  • Faucet aerators with a flow rate of 0.5 GPM

4. Eliminate Single-Pass Cooling 

A single-pass cooling system continuously circulates water through the unit for which it's cooling. This water moves through the system only once before going down the drain. 

Eliminate the single-pass systems for one that recirculates chilled water throughout the unit. Michigan's National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory, located in Ann Arbor, replaced its single-pass system with a recirculating one and cut water usage by 80%.

5. Use Water-Smart Landscaping and Irrigation    

Plant drought-tolerant plants to reduce the need for auxiliary irrigation. Reduce landscape water usage by conducting an irrigation audit and installing WaterSense labeled weather-based controllers for irrigations. 

Alternatively, you could choose a moisture sensor that waters only when the vegetation requires it. Taking these measures will reduce water usage for irrigation needs.

6. Optimize Cooling Towers   

In larger structures like schools and universities, cooling towers provide air conditioning but use a considerable amount of water. You can optimize cooling tower operations by carefully maintaining control of the water discharge (blowdown) and water evaporation ratios. 

The evaporation to blowdown ratio is also known as the cycle of concentration. An optimized cooling tower will use six or more condensation cycles to achieve maximum water efficiency. 

Meter the water put into that tower and discharged from it to ensure the cooling tower is operating correctly. Doing this can also help identify malfunctions or leaks. 

Along with controlling RO systems operations, the EPA's Maryland Environmental Science Center has saved 530,000 gallons of water by reducing blowdown from its cooling towers.

7. Recover Rainwater

Image of a rooftop rainwater recovery system


A rainwater capture system recovers rainwater and redirects it into storage tanks somewhere on the facility's property, usually outside the building or in the facility's basement. You can use the water for non-potable use, like flushing toilets, irrigating landscaping, and supplying water to cooling towers. 

The Region 7 Science and Technology Center, located in Kansas City, Kansas, uses a hi-tech rainwater recovery system on the building's rooftop. Facility managers anticipate the research and educational laboratory will save 300,000 gallons of water annually.

Better Water Management with Solutions from Chicago Faucets   

Sustainability and safe drinking water in schools, universities, and other facilities is a priority here at Chicago Faucets. We design our fixtures to reduce waste. We manufacture our faucets using low-lead brass to ensure water from our products is always safe. 

If you are looking for faucets, fixtures, and fittings to replace old, outdated, and inefficient ones, we have what you are looking for, from kitchens to restrooms and laboratories to safety fittings.

Contact us today to speak to one of our sustainability specialists for more information about water management and conservation best practices.

Topics: Water Management Strategies, water management in schools, water management best practices, water management in universities