From filling up our water bottles during lecture to showering after long workouts at Gregory Gym, we use a lot of water.
Students who live on campus may be less likely to notice the level of their water use. I definitely was not thinking about water conservation during my freshman year. After all, we no longer have anyone telling us to take a quick shower or to turn the water off as we brush our teeth. This tendency to overlook our water usage is exacerbated by the fact that students do not receive utility bills when living on campus.
According to the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System, UT-Austin used 775,935,637 gallons of water from the 2016-17 academic year. While UT has worked to integrate sustainability measures across campus, including the installation of an automated irrigation system and other water conservation methods, it’s time students do their part as well.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that of the 70 percent of water covering Earth, less than one percent can be used by humans. The EPA goes on to state that Americans use an average of 88 gallons of water a day. At this rate, we are quickly using up that one percent.
“Water affects everything around us,” said Chris Morphis, a history and economics junior. “We may not feel the immediate repercussions of water shortage, but a lack of water can lead to increased food, energy and living expenses.”
Austin is regarded as a city with a medium to high risk of drought, further adding to the need to conserve water on campus. The repercussions of not doing so could lead to higher food prices because of agricultural issues, less available water for recreational use, the demise of ecosystems and can even lead to health issues.
University Housing and Dining has also taken measures to conserve water in dorms by installing new campus laundry machines, dish machines, showerheads, faucets and toilets, which all conserve water.
Save the Drop is a new student campaign that works to make saving water a habit for UT students and encourage a mindset that views water conservation as a way of life.
Morphis serves as the campaign’s economics lead. “Students should remember to keep showers short, use the washing machine only when they have a full load, and — if it is within their means — install water-efficient toilets, showerheads and faucets,” Morphis said.
Maria Gonzalez, a corporate communication junior and communication lead at Save the Drop, firmly believes their campaign can help students see that saving water should be a priority. “That’s where we believe we can make a long-term impact — when conserving water becomes so routine in our lives and communities that it becomes weird not to do so.”
If we simply become more cautious of the amount of water we use each day by taking small measures, we can make a considerable difference in how much water we preserve each academic year.
Torres is a Plan II, English & creative writing junior from San Antonio.