Water Conservation at Notre Dame
Autoclave Water Economizers
In Fall 2010, the College of Science replaced two autoclaves in Stepan Chemistry. With support from the Green Loan Fund, they were able to purchase water economizers for these autoclaves, resulting in an annual water savings of over 350,000 gallons per year.
As the University has updated buildings and constructed new buildings, it has adopted water conservation technologies. In FY09, the University updated three student residence halls representing over 165,000 GSF of building space. In FY08, over 150,000 GSF was renovated. Water conservation technologies adopted at these existing buildings include low-flow faucets, low-flow shower heads, waterless urinals and dual-flush toilets.
All new "construction" includes water efficient fixtures such as low-flow shower heads and urinals and dual-flush toilets. The landscaping surrounding these buildings utilizes drip irrigation and Stinson-Remick Hall has a rain garden to trap storm water as well. During the 2020-2022 academic years, five new buildings became LEED-certified due in part to the projected annual water savings of 7,536,928 gallons.
Notre Dame began replacing its 15-year-old sprinkler system with a new, high-efficiency system. Now complete, the new system monitors the weather and automatically defers irrigation when it is raining, resulting in a 25%-35% savings. The new system is also able to shut down the water supply from a central location in case of broken pipes or flooding. Flow meters, which can increase the water savings up to 55%, were also installed across campus. Due to its high efficiency, the new system will count as a credit toward achieving LEED certification for new buildings. In May, 2021, Landscape services updated its nursery irrigation system, replacing the old overhead operation, resulting in an 80% savings in water.
Storm Water Management
The University implemented a "Storm Water Quality Management Plan" which is managed by the Utilities Department. When rain or snowmelt runs off roofs and roads it picks up pollutants that can negatively affect the water quality of nearby lakes and streams. The Storm Water Quality Management Plan is in place to provide education about storm water and prevent its potential for negative impacts. This plan includes regular monitoring of lake & river quality, centralizing hazardous waste disposal, providing unpaved Gameday parking on White field which allows for rainwater to percolate into the soil where it gets naturally filtered, and labeling storm water drains in an effort to prevent illicit dumping.
More about water
The supply of water to campus is managed by Notre Dame's Department of Utilities. The Safe Drinking Water Act requires that water quality be tested at least once every three years, and standard testing monitors levels or arsenic, barium, chloride, copper, iron, manganese, nitrate, sodium, sulfate, and zinc, as well as the general quality parameters of pH, hardness, coliform bacteria concentration, and total dissolved solids (TDS). While you may still detect a "metallic" taste to the water, Notre Dame's drinking water across campus has always fallen well below the health threatening levels and is very safe to drink. Using a Brita pitcher will remove the taste of "hardness" that some find unpleasant.