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NC State Students Edge Carolina in Water Challenge

Students from North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill combined to save more than 11 million gallons of water in a three-month water-conservation competition that saw NC State students edge their Carolina counterparts.

The contest was conceived as a way to respond to the continuing drought in North Carolina. The two schools established an initial baseline for the competition, with NC State using 31 gallons of water per residence hall student per day to UNC-Chapel Hill’s 34. The following results show the overall decrease in water used per student per day, average water used per student per day and percent reduction per student per day.

  • Decrease in water used per student per day (gallons): NC State 9, Carolina 8
  • Average water used per student per day (gallons): NC State 22, Carolina 26
  • Percent reduction per student per day: NC State 29, Carolina 24

The contest lasted 95 days with the roughly 14,000 students living in residence halls at the two universities saving an average of 8.5 gallons per day for a total savings of about 11,305,000 gallons.

“I’m glad our students won the competition,” said Bobby Mills, NC State’s student body president. “We should all take pride in producing more than 11 million gallons in water saved.” Mills and Chancellor James Oblinger issued the challenge to UNC Chancellor James Moeser and the Carolina students in November.

Mills said that students launched a water conservation informational campaign to “make sure everyone understood the need to save water. This is the kind of initiative that gives everyone an opportunity to get involved in a critical issue in our state. This was a competition but in reality we were working together with the students at Chapel Hill for a good cause.”

“Win or lose, the water conservation challenge between UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State was a great initiative in making all students more mindful of the ongoing drought in the area,” said Brian Sugg, president of Carolina’s Residence Hall Association.

“I’m proud and thankful for all the work that was put into publicizing this challenge by students at both campuses. More importantly, I’m thankful to all students who have made an effort to conserve water, and I hope they will continue these efforts into the future now that the challenge has come to a close.”

Ongoing conservation efforts on both campuses helped account for the cumulative water savings.

Through conservation efforts, upgrading of irrigation systems, and installation of low-flow faucets, showerheads and toilet fixtures across campus, NC State continues to lower its water usage. The university has cut water consumption by 29 percent over the last five years, even though the campus population has grown by 10 percent.

Since July 2007, NC State’s water conservation measures have produced a savings of 57 million gallons over the same period from 2006-07.

At Carolina, new construction makes use of cisterns to capture, store and reuse rainwater from roofs and plazas. In addition, the installation of “waterless” or dual-flush toilets, front-loading washers in residence halls and low-flow faucets, showerheads and toilets across campus has helped net an overall annualized water savings of 25 percent.

Water use per capita dropped by 5 percent from 2003 through 2007 even though the campus has seen a 20 percent increase in its physical size during that period.

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