Water is essential to human life. Colorado Springs receives an average of 16" of precipitation each year. While we receive an average of ~16" our annual precipitation ranges between 6"-27" (NOAA). With our cycle of water abundance and scarcity we are classified as a high desert. In our community our water is delivered and purified via a complex, energy-intensive system. This system pulls water from the Arkansas River Water shed through the Southern Delivery System, the Denver Basin Aquifer, and other regional surface water. Water security continues to be a problem for the Pikes Peak Region. Given increased population within the Colorado Springs area we can expect expanded reliance on other regional sources. As specified within the El Paso County Water Master Plan, "By 2040, the current supply of water is estimated to be sufficient to supply 72% of the projected population. Areas with a significant share of Denver Basin groundwater could serve another 20% of the population, but that share of production may no be economical." Given projected growth in our population by 2060 "the current supply of water is estimated to be sufficient to supply 56% of the projected population. Areas with a significant share of Denver Basin groundwater could serve another 15% of the population, but that share of production may not be economical." As our population increases our demand for water will have significant impacts on regional agriculture and other historic water utilization. Our regional water security faces a number of threats from infrastructure failure, droughts, fire, salinization, storm water, lead, carcinogens, climate change, reduced snowpack and other potential threats. Given changing environmental dynamics and risk of major droughts our water sources are increasingly unpredictable and future water supplies will be more expensive to deliver. Therefore, it is imperative that we manage this precious resource as wisely as possible.
To meet these demands our Sustainability Strategic Plan identifies the following objective with regard to water conservation: Institute water conservation practices and planning throughout the campus to reduce both domestic and outdoor water use, decrease utility costs, and model effective storm water management. The plan identifies a number of water conservation measures:
1) Decrease outdoor water use intensity on campus by 10%,
2) Decrease indoor water use in existing buildings by 10%, and
3) Develop a comprehensive stormwater plan that mitigates stormwater runoff and decreases impervious surfaces.
In pursuit of these targets, a portion of the $1.3 million Energy Performance Bond was applied to water savings retrofits. For new buildings, the university has continued to pursue a minimum of LEED Silver certification, which includes points for water efficiency. Designed water savings for the Recreation Center (2007) are 30% over a baseline building. Designed water savings for the Science Engineering Building (2009) are 42% over a baseline building. For more information on what we are doing to reduce water usage in our new buildings, as well as other high performance building features, go here.