Does a Leaky Faucet Matter During the Drought? More than you Might Think...

Fixing a faucet can save thousands of gallons of water

Michael Todd Walter, Assistant Professor of Biological and Environmental Engineering (BEE). Credit: Lindsay France / Cornell Marketing Group
Michael Todd Walter, Professor of Biological and Environmental Engineering (BEE). Credit: Lindsay France / Cornell Marketing Group

The summer of 2016 has been a season of drought for Cornell and most of New York State. As a result of prolonged period of severely diminished rainfall, and the record low level of Fall Creek, Cornell University Water System issued a Limited Water Advisory on July 20, 2016. During this time of little rain water conservation is a top priority.  Did you know you can make a difference by reporting leakage not only from faucets but also from toilets, pipes and water fountains?

Recently, a leak in Riley Robb Hall’s kitchen faucet persisted for several weeks. A study by Professor Todd Walter and Chelsea Morris,MS/PhD Candidate, Biological and Environmental Engineering (BEE), was done to determine water and money loss due to this leak.

It cost Cornell 1,800 gallons of clean drinking watera, $14.85b, and approximately 2.7 kWhc in the month it went unattended. Enough water to flush toilets an extra 38 timesd and the equivalent of leaving the bathroom lights on for an extra 9 hourse in Riley Robb.

For more information about the current drought status, and other tips for water conservation on campus, please visit:
Energy & Sustainability: Water and Drought Information

To share your research or ideas on water conservation, fill out this 2 question form and help the campus reach our goals to be a sustainable and responsible steward of water resources:
Submit your ideas for water reduction on campus

Report any water leakages in your building to Customer Service. Call them at 5-5322 from a Cornell land line or 607-255-5322 from a cell phone. Report water leakages off campus to your RA’s if you live in a Residence Hall, or to your landlord. A single, slow-dripping faucet can waste up to 60 gallons a day!


a measurement collected by Dr. Todd Walter and Chelsea Morris
b water price according to Cornell Infrastructure Properties and Planning 
c average energy consumed according to EPA report on drinking water treatment plant
d 1.6 gallons per flush according to EPA Watersense program
e 65 Watts for a fluorescent tube lighting according to US DOE; 4 bulbs in a bathroom

Views expressed in News posts may not be those of Cornell University. No endorsement is implied.