We are working to reduce our total water consumption and associated demand on this scarce resource. 

Water Policy

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Reducing our water consumption

Starting from a 2017-18 benchmark of 420,000 cubic metres, the University is challenging itself to reduce water consumption despite an expected increase in residences over this time. The University has set itself a 15 per cent absolute water reduction target against the 17-18 benchmark.

We aim to achieve this by 2021 through four streams of work:

  • Detecting leaks: this is done through a combination of the installation of strategic meters, pattern analysis, increasing reporting and a range of other methods including the use of heat-vision cameras
  • Reducing consumption: through changes in equipment, behaviour and usage in both residences and academic buildings
  • Independent supply: our Stag Hill campus will be supplied from an onsite borehole, reducing costs and the energy required in transportation
  • Preventing waste: by installing intelligent controls and reducing flush and flow rates across campus, we are looking to reduce the amount of water that might be potentially wasted.

Our progress on reducing water use is reported quarterly to the Executive Sustainability Steering Group, Infrastructure Management Board and annually to the Executive Board. These groups contain representation from across the University’s senior management and include student representation from the Students' Union and societies.

Key successes

  • Installation of passive infra-red sensors across almost all urinals saving over 60,000,000 litres of water per year
  • Leak detection work carried out with the help of a masters student in civil and environmental engineering identified a hidden leak saving approximately 8,400,000 litres per year
  • Other leak identification a repair work has saved an estimated further 13,000,000 litres per year
  • Work by a mechanical engineering undergraduate as part of the University’s ‘Undergraduate Sustainability Research Opportunities Programme’ (USROP) led to the identification of high water use equipment leading to an early saving of over 600,000 litres per year
  • Work on our onsite borehole has been completed, reducing pressure on the local network and reducing the carbon emissions associated with pumping water to our Stag Hill campus. In the academic year 2021/22, the borehole provided over 180,000,000 litres of water and the site is now being used as an exemplar, providing a close and well designed resource for enhancing the teaching of both engineering, and sustainability students.

These measures combined have saved the equivalent of 33 Olympic swimming pools worth of water a year!

Conserving water

The University estate and landscaping is maintained by a dedicated team of in-house staff. They employ a range of methods to conserve water:

  • Adopting a water probe irrigation system to assess soil moisture, promoting targeted rather than widespread watering
  • Compost and mulch are used to retain moisture around trees and reduce the amount of watering required
  • The University has removed water fountain systems and replaced them with planted beds with drought resistant species
  • An ongoing water efficiency partnership with Thames Water identifying and repairing minor leaks and the instillation of water saving devices across the estate.

Water usage and environmental care

The University treats wastewater from its Veterinary School and dilutes this before it enters the public sewers. Our Surrey Sports Park facilities have abatement systems to limit the flow rate of water into the public sewers and reduce pressure on infrastructure.

At our Stag Hill campus we maintain two lakes which enhance the biodiversity of the site but also act as abatement systems, collecting surface run off (through fuel interceptors) and slowing its entry into water courses, reducing the risk of flooding. These interceptors also serve as a method of preventing any spillages from entering the lakes.

The Control of Hazardous Substances Policy (PDF) aims to reduce environmental impact created by the use or disposal of hazardous substances.

Water refill points

We recognise the impact that plastic has on our ecosystems, so we’re committed to reducing the use of single-use plastic bottles. The University offers 106 refill points around campus providing staff, students and visitors the opportunity to refill their bottle. Additionally all cold water taps provide clean potable water unless otherwise labelled.