The Amherst campus currently uses about 350 million gallons of water per year. UMass Amherst is making strides in reducing the amount of potable water consumption through an array of water conservation efforts including the use of treated reclaimed water (effluent) from the Amherst Waste Water Treatment Plant. Click here for more information about how UMass Amherst is saving water in the residence halls and across campus in response to the Town of Amherst water restrictions and drought response.
2005 Reclaimed Water for CHP Steam and Hot Water:
Since 2005 the UMass Amherst Central Heating Plant (CHP) has safely utilized the effluent (reclaimed water) from the Amherst Waste Water Treatment Plant as boiler make-up water to produce steam for the campus and hot water distributed in a closed piping system throughout the campus. The water is treated with a state-of-the-art reverse osmosis (RO) treatment process. This initiative reduced potable water consumption by about 17%.
2013 & 2015 Expansion to Cooling Towers:
To increase water conservation, in 2013 the CHP submitted a Class A Reclaimed Water Application to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to use reclaimed water at the CHP cooling towers. The campus received the permit to expand the reclaimed water for cooling tower use and has been using the reclaimed water for this purpose ever since at the CHP cooling tower. In 2015, UMass Amherst received authorization from the DEP to maximize our reclaimed water usage during the summer months to include the Commonwealth Honors Residential Complex which will be completed and implemented in time for the 2017 cooling season.
2018 Expansion to Irrigation:
In early 2018, the campus received an extension of the Class A Reclaimed Water Permit to expand the use of treated reclaimed water from the Amherst Wastewater Treatment Plant for the use of dust control and for watering plants to conserve potable water used for irrigation in response to the Town of Amherst water ban restrictions. This use for dust control and irrigation will be conducted under the existing Class A permit for reuse and the permit is being amended for this additional use. The campus has committed to a number of actions in order to comply with 314 CMR 20.13(1) and 314 CMR 20.13(2).
NOTE: The use of reclaimed water is extensively tested to minimize risk to employees and the campus under the Class A permit.