SDG6 - Clean Water & Sanitation
‘Clean Water and Sanitation’ examines the need to improve and provide clean and accessible water systems and infrastructure. Water scarcity is an issue that affects 40% of the global population, and currently, over 1.7 billion people rely on river basins where water withdrawal exceeds recharge capacities (United Nations, 2019). Not having a reliable source of clean and consistent water also affects sanitation and health services, and is strongly tied to problems with food security as well. Goal six also addresses the importance of restoring water-related ecosystems, such as rivers, lakes, and wetlands.
Western Initiatives Supporting This Goal
- H2O Bottle Filling Stations have been installed at many locations on campus. Older water fountains can and have been retrofitted to upgrade to the EZ H2O Bottle Filling Stations (Western University, 2019). The stations count the number of disposable water bottles saved from going to the landfill with each use (Western University, 2019).
- Hundreds of showerheads, kitchen sink aerators, and bathroom aerators have been delivered by Union Gas to residences at Western and these new faucets use approximately 30% less water compared to the old faucets (Western University, 2019). This project can save thousands of cubic metres of water per year. The project emphasizes to students the importance of conserving water.
- Western’s real-time energy dashboard allows the public to see the water demand for each building on campus. This dashboard is located on the Western website and users simply have to click on the building to see historical data for water usage for that building.
- According to Health Canada, the incorrect disposal of pharmaceuticals can lead to significant adverse environmental effects including feminization of local fish species, bioaccumulation of toxic chemicals from drinking water supplies, and more (Health Canada, 2017). At Western, leftover prescriptions of pharmaceutical drugs can be taken back to the Western On-Campus Pharmacy (Western University, 2019). This ensures that these drugs are correctly disposed of as these substances can negatively impact the environment when they are thrown into the garbage.
- Western’s new closed-loop system reuses water that has been run through the equipment to cool it down which is then drained, re-chilled, and reused (Western University, 2019).
Low-flow faucets and showerheads have been installed throughout Western’s residences to conserve water (Western University, 2019).
The “Save the Blue Campaign” was created to get students who live in residences to lower their water usage (Western University, 2019).
Cisterns have been installed in green buildings on campus to catch and reuse rainwater to flush toilets (Western University, 2019). Many of the installed systems have been unreliable and, in some cases, decommissioned. However, The cisterns in both buildings were decommissioned. Western’s Centre for Public Health and Family Medicine (PHFM) also had a cistern installed but the design of the system was too costly to maintain it was also decommissioned. Amit Chakma Engineering Building has a cistern installed with a good filtration system and has applied learnings from other buildings to keep the cost of maintenance down.