Illinois Sustainable Technology Center - University of Illinois

Sketch of a faucet with water flowing out to form the word 'one' for the one billion gallon water challengeBillion Gallon Water Challenge

As population increases, the demand for clean, fresh water will also rise, making existing supplies a very precious resource in Illinois and other parts of the US. The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) seeks to help businesses, industries, communities, and the general public with water conservation measures such as:

  • Using water more efficiently
  • Reuse of water
  • Finding new ways to keep our water resources as clean as possible

ISTC is setting a goal of conserving One Billion Gallons of water in Illinois. It is funding projects and conducting its own research along with other scientists, industry and other experts that will be looking for:

  • Improved treatment of wastewater
  • Reuse of process water in factories
  • Novel recycling methods
  • Other significant water-saving measures

  • arial photo of Lake Decatur

    Example of a typical Illinois reservoir - Lake Decatur

  • Cooling Tower at the University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign

    Example of a cooling tower at the University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign

  • IL Woodridge Greene Valley - PlantWastewater Treatment Plant in DuPage County, IL

    Example of a Wastewater Treatment Plant: Woodridge Greene Valley Plant - DuPage County

ISTC Funded Water Conservation Projects

The ISTC Grant Program is funding the following projects in fiscal year 2015 in conjunction with ISTC’s goal of saving Illinois one billion gallons of water. Results of the projects will be shared via workshops, tours, and webinars.

Carus Corporation Water Conservation

July 1, 2014 to November 30, 2014 | $63,446 | Carus Water Conservation Case Study Fact Sheet
Carus Corporation – LaSalle, IL – currently uses approximately 47 million gallons of raw city water per year to meet boiler house and other process water requirements. The raw city water runs through water softeners and then is treated with a reverse osmosis system. The treated water is used for the steam production in the boiler house and for other water applications throughout the site.  Instead of using raw city water, Carus plans to recycle the water that has already been utilized by their crystallizer vacuum system as non-contact cooling water.  By recycling this “used” non-contact cooling water they would be able to save 47 million gallons of city water annually.

Reduction of Non-Revenue Water through Continuous Acoustic Monitoring

July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015 | $75,000 | Acoustic Monitoring Case Study Fact Sheet
American Water seeks to reduce water waste in the state of Illinois at the water utility level with a pilot project in Des Plaines, IL. Utilizing an advanced leak monitoring technique, this project will achieve real measurable water savings in a water distribution system within a year and show the potential for significant water savings for other water systems. This project will use advanced continuous acoustic monitoring technology that will alert the utility to water leaks literally when they begin rather than when they surface. At the same time, the metering of the system supply will serve to both quantify leakage and determine the extent of non-revenue water losses. Economic analysis will include water production cost savings but also add secondary benefits to include reduction of worker overtime due to leak repair and damage caused by leaks. The system under study has non-revenue water of over 45 million gallons per year; it is anticipated that 15 million gallons may be saved in the nine-month study period after installation of the monitoring technology.

Loyola University Chicago’s Gallons Saved & Shared Project

July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015 | $50,999 | University Water Conservation Program Fact Sheet
Loyola University Chicago will pilot and evaluate a series of water conservation measures, utilizing its campus facilities to reduce water, engage students and employees with behavior‐focused water conservation measures, and share best practices with other Illinois colleges and universities. Based on existing water conservation practices for the higher education sector and the results from their own 2013 Water Audit, water conservation efforts will be focused along three primary actions: (1) Residence hall conservation retrofits; (2) Student and employee behavior change campaigns; and (3) Green Lab building water conservation retrofits and programming. Loyola expects 2.5 to 3 million gallons will be saved annually once these three measures are implemented on their campus. A Resource Tool Kit will be created to share with universities and institutions seeking to conserve water.

Urbana Irrigation Controls Study

July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015 | $3,000
The City of Urbana aims to measure potable water and financial savings from the installation of irrigation controls on automatic landscape irrigation systems. The study will utilize three existing irrigation meters at two different locations. One location will receive a rain sensor control added to its meter and usage will be compared to its historic use. Another location has separate meters on both sides of a street. One meter will receive a combination evapotranspiration control, rain sensor, and freeze sensor (i.e., ET control) while the other side will only have the existing timer. Project investigators expect the installation of a rain senor will conserve water compared to a timer only and that the installation of an ET control will conserve an even greater percentage of water. This pilot project is a novel implementation of a sensor irrigation system used in a community setting and, if successful, could be used as a template for other communities.

Evaluation of Zero Blowdown Cooling Towers with Soft Water Makeup

July 1, 2014 to December 31, 2015 | $75,000
Refrigeration, air conditioning, and process heat removal - ubiquitous operations employed by a variety of sectors - rely on cooling towers to avoid excess heat. The evaporative cooling of these towers, if operated efficiently, performs an indispensable function. However, efficient operation is often not the norm, and can result in enormous water waste. Typical barriers to achieving efficient operations include availability of skilled water treatment professionals, diligent monitoring, and use of hazardous chemicals. A project being conducted by the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) seeks to evaluate a technology offered by Water Conservation Technology International (WCTI) that uses soft water to efficiently maintain and operate cooling towers.

Water Use and Conservation on Illinois Community College Campuses: The Ripple Effect

September 1, 2014 to May 31, 2015 | $8,010
The Illinois Green Economy Network (IGEN) worked on a three-phase project with groups of colleges across the state that will have a “ripple effect” in identifying opportunities for increasing the efficiency of water management on college campuses across Illinois.

  • In the first phase of the project, IGEN hosted a “pre-program” webinar for all Illinois community colleges and colleges that educated stakeholders about the basics of water auditing.
  • In the second phase, IGEN arranged regional training sessions at several campuses to train stakeholders on how to conduct a comprehensive water audit on their campus.
  • In the third phase, colleges conducted water audits on their campus and maked recommendations that will reduce water consumption on their individual campus and includes project costs, savings (H2O and $) and return on investment.

Water Use Facts

Most people use between 70 and 100 gallons of water a day.

Flushing a toilet uses between 2 and 7 gallons of water. To reduce the amount of water required to flush, you can add a displacement device (a water-filled plastic bottle or bag) to your tank.

Washing dishes by hand uses about 5 gallons per person; a dishwasher uses 9 - 12 gallons per load.

A shower uses 2 - 5 gallons a minute; a bath uses about 50 gallons.

Most people use about 2 gallons to brush their teeth.


Water News Archive

Related Water Conservation Links

You can join the challenge, too!
ISTC is encouraging people, businesses, organizations, communities, and schools in Illinois to take the challenge and pledge to conserve water at home, school, and work. One gallon or one drop, every action helps meet the goal. Join the Challenge

Water Challenge Flyer

Water Challenge Press Release

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