Impact: Students Put New Twist on Water Conservation Contest
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Impact: Students Put New Twist on Water Conservation Contest

September 11, 2019

This is “Impact,” from the University of California,
Merced. Students at UC Merced are putting a new spin
on dorm water conservation competitions, thanks to a device that transmits data from water
meters to the Internet in nearly real time. “The technology that we’re using, the data
collection is done automatically, so the students don’t have to spend any time collecting or
analyzing the data. That’s all done for them automatically and
presented on the web and on their smartphones.” Students in the nine Valley Terraces residence
halls competed recently in a month-long battle to see which could conserve the most water. Stanislaus Hall won the contest, which saw
students save a total of 90,000 gallons of water, an overall reduction of 14 percent. “Our overall goals for the competition are
just to create awareness of water conservation here on campus. We want to create behavior change. We want students to take those behavior changes
and use them not only here on campus, but back at home.” The technology, implemented campus-wide, will
lead to significant long-term cost savings. In addition to allowing for easy tracking
of water use data, the system makes it easier to detect costly leaks. “We’ve seen from this competition, toilets
leaking anywhere from 10 to 100 gallons per hour. So after the first week of the competition,
we had several calls into facilities to fix particular toilets, and they were fixed by
the end of the week.” A number of student groups were involved in
the effort, including the UC Merced chapter of the Alliance to Save Energy’s Green Campus
program and the student chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World. The winning dorm earned $1,000 to donate to
a local nonprofit of their choice. “Students are really enthusiastic about the
competition. They are telling me that they’re saving water,
and they’re really competitive about winning.” This is Eric Alvarez reporting. For more news about the University of California,
Merced, visit our website.

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