Optimized water

Optimized water

Access to clean water is an increasingly critical global and Southwest regional issue. ASU conducts researcheducation 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 2022, water used increased by 32% since FY 2007. It’s important to note that building space increased 54%, and on-campus students increased by over 39% 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.
Year Total gallons of water
FY 2022 1,103,626,470 
FY 2021 1,117,843,383
FY 2020 993,520,690
FY 2019 1,041,234,213
FY 2018 1,149,483,488
FY 2017 1,108,816,698
FY 2016 1,230,725,345
FY 2015 1,094,598,858
FY 2014 1,141,942,295
FY 2013 1,097,287,553
FY 2012 1,027,965,899
FY 2011 988,773,786
FY 2010 979,810,653
FY 2009 1,031,496,765
FY 2008 992,632,427
FY 2007 835,885,764


Reclaiming wastewater:

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 Valley 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 the 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.

Commitment to water-conscious buildings:

ASU requires, to the fullest extent practicable, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver certification for all new construction of universityowned and operated buildings. The LEED credit system provides flexibility in construction; however, there are prerequisite credits that ASU must complete for all LEED buildings. This includes minimum water use reductions for both indoor and outdoor water uses. It also requires building-level water metering, a critical tool for managing overall water use as well as for identifying leaks on a timely basis. These building standards help to ensure ASU minimizes water use.

Sustainable water use on campus:

Arizona’s 1980 Groundwater Management Act created a goal of safe yield for the Phoenix Active Management Area, which includes all four ASU campuses. In support of achieving long-term water supply sustainability for the region, ASU is actively reducing our use of water extracted from aquifers and surface water resources, including the Colorado and Salt and Verde river systems. This includes removing non-functional turf and improving irrigation efficiencies outdoors as well as the water reuse systems detailed above to support aquifer health.