Liquid News

Chilling with Recycled Water: IRWD, UCI Save 80 Million Gallons of Drinking Water a Year

UC Irvine and Irvine Ranch Water District officials toss ceremonial buckets of water into the cooling towers to kick off the new project. (Shown here, right to left, are UCI Associate Chancellor for Sustainability Wendell Brase, IRWD Board President Douglas J. Reinhart, UCI CFO and Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Ron Cortez, IRWD Board Vice President Steven E. LaMar and IRWD Board of Directors members Mary Aileen Matheis and Peer Swan.)

 

Irvine Ranch Water District and the University of California, Irvine, have dedicated UCI’s renovated Central Plant — retrofitted to use recycled water for cooling campus buildings.

The most significant conservation accomplishment in UCI’s 50-year collaboration with IRWD, the Central Plant conversion will save more than 80 million gallons of drinking water annually – roughly what 3,300 households use in a year.

For more than half a century, IRWD has been a national leader in the production and use of recycled water. IRWD worked with UCI on the planning, design and construction of the project, engineered to meet IRWD and UCI standards.

“IRWD continues to be in the forefront of recycled water,” said Douglas J. Reinhart, president of the IRWD Board of Directors. “And we are proud of our partnership with UCI.” He was among IRWD and UCI officials who launched the renovated Central Plant with a dedication ceremony Aug. 15.

The renovation was a collaborative effort. Working at night for almost a year to avoid interrupting campus traffic by day, IRWD constructed 3,000 feet of pipeline to transport recycled water from its Michelson Water Recycling Plant to the UCI Central Plant – which cools 65 buildings throughout campus. UCI retrofitted the on-campus plant and installed additional filtration systems to further treat the water.

As a result, UCI will achieve its stretch goal to reduce per-capita drinking water use 50% by 2025 – and it puts the campus well ahead of the statewide University of California goal to cut water usage 36% by 2025.

In addition to saving 80 million gallons with the cooling plant conversion, UCI saves 70 million gallons of drinking water per year from previous recycled water irrigation projects completed in collaboration with IRWD.

“UCI is one of the nation’s greenest universities, and we like to set the bar high for environmental stewardship,” said Wendell Brase, associate chancellor of sustainability at UCI. “This would not be possible without our partnership with IRWD.”

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Jerry Nearhoof, UCI’s assistant director of utilities operations and facilities management, directs a tour of the university’s Central Plant, which now cools 65 buildings across campus using recycled water.

Cooling Tower 1

IRWD recently helped UCI convert the university's Central Plant cooling towers (shown here) to recycled water, saving 80 million gallons of drinking water annually.

 Storage tank

A recycled water storage tank, shown in the background, provides the water capacity needed to operate the cooling towers at right.

Internal Plant

A view of the internal operations of the university's Central Plant, which provides chilled air to 65 buildings on campus.

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