Water Conservation at the NIEHS
The 2007-2008 drought in central North Carolina led to critically low levels in many area water supply reservoirs. As a result many municipalities, including the City of Durham, established water use restrictions for residential, commercial and industrial customers. Please visit the North Carolina drought information website for additional information.
The NIEHS receives water from the City of Durham for laboratory, utility and domestic purposes. Most of the water supplied by the City of Durham comes from Lake Michie and the Little River Reservoir. The city maintains a water management website that provides information about the water supply status and current water conservation requirements. Please visit this web site to obtain more knowledge about current drought conditions and the Durham water supply.
The NIEHS continues to actively seek ways to conserve water. Several changes to our facility operations have been implemented to reduce water consumption and prepare for future droughts. A list of our water conservation efforts is provided below. In addition, we have also established an Environmental Management Program for reducing water consumption as part of our Environmental Management System (EMS). Please visit our Environmental Stewardship web page for additional information about our EMS.
NIEHS Water Conservation Efforts
- Cooling tower operations have been optimized. In addition, a reverse osmosis system is being installed on our cooling towers to reuse about 70 percent of the blowdown instead of discharging directly to the sanitary sewer.
- Outdoor watering has been eliminated. Water from our lake is occasionally used for spot watering during dry weather.
- The Cafeteria no longer washes dishes and instead uses compostable trays, plates, and cups.
- Waterless urinal units have been installed in all NIEHS facilities.
- Water reducing faucet aerators are installed on all restroom sinks.
- "Waterless" hand sanitizer dispensers are installed in all on-campus facilities.
- Low flow shower heads are installed in all locker rooms.
- Changes in the washing procedures for the laboratory support equipment have been made. Only full loads are processed through the washers, the frequency of washing has been reduced, several cycles have been shortened or eliminated and the recycling of wash water is being optimized.
- Changes have been made to decrease water used to wash histology slides.
- Our fleet vehicles are not washed during drought conditions.
- Building maintenance activities that use water are postponed during drought conditions.
- Campus utility systems are routinely surveyed to identify leaks and schedule repairs.
- Water-consuming air compressors are being replaced with water-free compressors.
- Educational water conservation information is provided to all employees through electronic newsletters and all-hands e-mails.