Access to clean water is an increasingly critical global and Southwest regional issue. ASU conducts research, education and engagement in the water arena and works to optimize operational water use.
Optimizing water includes reducing the need for water, eliminating water waste and using the most appropriate water quality for the right use. For instance, drinking-quality water is not needed for use in cooling towers, toilets and landscaping. Significant energy is required to produce drinking-quality water, so using less-refined water for the right use can also lead to energy savings and fewer climate change-contributing emissions.
- Achieve a 15% reduction in water imported to the university by fiscal year 2023.
- Update: In FY 2020, water used increased by 19% since FY 2007. It’s important to note that building space increased 43%, and on-campus students increased by over 33% in the same period.
- Incorporate university research into water and wastewater operations to harvest energy and nutrients from university effluent by fiscal year 2025.
- Incorporate university research into water and wastewater operations to develop campus community health goals, metrics and baselines by fiscal year 2019.
- Update: ASU supports the Tempe Opioid Wastewater Collection Data Dashboard by providing data on nicotine, alcohol, performance-enhancing drug use (Adderall, ADHD drugs, etc.), anti-depressants, opioids, caffeine, Illicit stimulants (e.g., cocaine), hallucinogens (e.g., MDMA), stress hormones, opioid treatment/reversal (e.g., Methadone, Naloxone), as well as community COVID-19 infection monitoring through wastewater testing and analytics.
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Wastewater is a resource rather than waste from the circular resource system perspective. Wastewater contains water, chemical energy and nutrients. ASU is actively researching methods to extract these resources from its wastewater and close that resource loop, thus displacing a portion of the water, energy and fertilizers currently imported onto campus.
Water reuse is a core part of Arizona's water system, and ASU participates in shared regional water reuse systems. All of ASU's wastewater is reused through the reuse systems detailed below.
All wastewater produced at ASU's Tempe, Downtown Phoenix and West campuses is directed to the 91st Avenue Wastewater Treatment Plant. This facility is jointly owned by the Sub-Regional Operating Group Cities of Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe and is operated by the City of Phoenix. Treated water from this plant is reused for three purposes: to cool Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, for agriculture in the Buckeye Irrigation District, and recharged through the Tres Rios wetlands and the Agua Fria Linear Recharge Project.
Wastewater from the Polytechnic campus flows to the Greenfield Water Reclamation Plant, which is jointly owned by the Cities of Mesa and Gilbert, along with the town of Queen Creek. Treated water from this plant is sent to the Gila River Indian Community in exchange for Central Arizona Project supplies.
Lake Havasu campus wastewater is treated at Mulberry Wastewater Treatment Plant or the Island Wastewater Treatment Plant, depending on local conditions. Treated wastewater is recycled for non-potable uses in Lake Havasu City, such as landscape irrigation.
ASU is also actively designing new buildings with water-efficient fixtures and equipment, retrofitting existing buildings with water-efficient fixtures, analyzing campus water infrastructure for savings opportunities, implementing low-impact development practices and implementing new landscape irrigation controls for improved efficiencies.