Greener Behrend: Goal 2, Water

Use water in a conservative and respectable manner.

View a brochure about storm water management.

The college is concerned about water use throughout campus, including academic, athletic, dining and housing facilities, and grounds. The college’s water comes from the City of Erie’s water system, which gets most of its water from Lake Erie. Since 1996, annual water consumption at the college increased from about 2.7 million cubic feet to 3.8 million cubic feet. We would like to see per capita water use decrease by 25 percent over the next decade.

If we return to our comparison of Behrend to a living organism, water would be one of the most important elements. All of life originated in a watery womb, and water covers over 70 percent of the Earth's surface and constitutes over 70 percent of a human's body. With water covering that much of the Earth's surface, water shortages seem to be unfounded. Unfortunately, only one percent of the water on Earth is freshwater. Freshwater is the kind of water humans use for their daily actives (bathing, drinking, cooking, cleaning, and disposing of wastes). Almost 70 percent of freshwater usage is for agricultural purposes only.

Freshwater is abundant in most of the United States (in our area especially, thanks to the Great Lakes, which contain 20 percent of the world's surface freshwater), but it estimated that 40 percent of the world's population is facing severe water shortages (Bill Moyer, Earth on the Edge). Mexico City is actually sinking because of the rate at which the ground water is being used. The problem is world-wide: underground aquifers are being used faster then they are being regenerated and are also becoming contaminated.

Behrend is part of the US Environmental Protection Agency's Project MS4: Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System.

Our indicators for the water goal are:

  1. Amount of water used;
  2. Amount of gray water used; and
  3. The quality of water (drinking and in Fourmile Creek).