FOD is Educating Campus About Water Consumption

While World Water Day comes just once a year, Brenda VanCleave doesn’t limit her water conservation to a single day. Instead, the Facilities Operations and Development (FOD) water resource engineer finds ways to integrate her morale responsibility into her favorite hobby. 

“My garden at my house is my getaway,” VanCleave said.

VanCleave has been tending to her garden for the past 15 years and finds that it’s the perfect way to enjoy the great outdoors. 

“I have a rain barrel that can feed the garden,” VanCleave said, with an unwavering commitment to sustainability and water conservation.

Her passion for water started far before her garden grew. The interest dates back to her time as an Ohio State agricultural engineering student. 

“Water is our most precious resource,” VanCleave said. “Understanding the impacts of flooding, droughts and how it’s all integrated together supports the human population.” 

Her work also supports Ohio State’s sustainability goals that include a target to reduce potable water consumption by 5% per capita every five years, resetting the baseline every five years.

World Water Day is an annual observance that focuses on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. This year’s campaign focused on climate change and how the two are linked.

“We’re a water-rich community, and being water-rich we take it for granted,” VanCleave said.

VanCleave and her team of students continue to try to find ways to reduce water usage on campus. To do so, they audit buildings and keep tabs on water consumption.

Melina Mallory is a junior majoring in in environmental science with a specialization in water science. 

“We use water meters that track consumption throughout the year,” said Mallory. “We go into the building to tour the mechanical room and talk to the maintenance staff.”

VanCleave explained that the investigatory work is crucial to determine where and how water is being used on campus. The goal is to audit 10 to 20 buildings per semester. To date this spring, they’ve completed 12 audits.

FOD is asking the campus community to be mindful of water use, particularly in residence halls and laboratories. According to VanCleave, campus labs typically have a higher water consumption rate than any other buildings on campus. Students, faculty and staff can help both at work and at home.

“Be aware of how you use water,” VanCleave said. “Don’t waste it by letting it run down the drain when you brush your teeth.”

VanCleave recommends these additional ways to save water:

  • Take shorter showers
  • Install water-saving shower heads
  • Report leaks from faucets and pipes when you see them
  • Run your washing machine only when you have a full load of laundry