The world’s efficient use of water has become a critical necessity to guarantee the sustainability of this finite resource, which is essential for life and the environment. Therefore, its management should focus on the cooperation between users, planners, and people in charge of decision-making processes at all hierarchical levels.
Regarding urban areas, water use and management in educational institutions is of particular concern since they are large consumers due to their size and demand (e.g., basic and cleaning services, laboratories, cafeterias, and gardening). As a result, water consumption in large higher education institutions is similar to that of medium-sized cities; understanding such reality is important to undertake a proper management of this resource at schools and colleges.
The six UANL campuses are located across semi-arid areas that are deemed water-stressed. In order to address this problem, UANL has implemented institutional policies on efficient water consumption by means of awareness programs and talks at its schools and offices, together with a program of regular inspections and water system infrastructure modernization, which has allowed to detect and repair water leaks, reduce water use for sanitary services and air-conditioning systems, and replace faucets with intelligent systems that prevent spillages from irresponsible use.
Thanks to these encouragement actions on the sustainable and efficient use of water, consumption per capita at UANL has decreased from 13.5 cubic meters in 2011 to 10.8 cubic meters between 2011 and 2016.
Water consumption per capita in cubic meters
Waste Water Treatment
Since UANL campuses are located in regions of hydric stress and due to greater water demand of our student community, the University has developed strategies to face this challenge such as wastewater treatment and reuse.
Wastewater from all UANL campuses is released to the sewerage network of Agua y Drenaje de Monterrey (public descentralized institution) this is lead to one of the four sewage treatment plants from Agua y Drenaje. Wastewater is treated at 100%, this is the only public institution in Mexico which has made it possible during the last 15 years.
Treated wastewater is sent back to UANL campuses to be used as grey water, this in order to mitigate water demand.
More than 70% of UANL green areas are irrigated with treated water, which has had an immediate and important economic impact since the cost of treated water represents only 18% of the cost of safe water. Treated water is irrigated in two main areas, the first one at the north side of the university, where the sport fields are, and the second at the east, where the university gardens are.
Nowadays, UANL is looking forward to irrigate 100% of green areas with treated water. This has been a gradual process due to the complexity of this task in terms of engineering and economy.