Over the last ten years, the East and West Campuses of East Carolina University (ECU) have seen tremendous growth in enrollment and infrastructure required to provide a comfortable learning environment. This growth has lead to a significant increase in operational and maintenance costs. ECU is implementing conservation efforts to identify and utilize methods to reduce these costs. As a result of its commitment to cost reduction, ECU designed and installed three ground water wells at each campus to provide an alternative, and significantly less expensive, source of water for its largest water consuming activity, climate control. These wells were intentionally designed and installed in an environmentally sensitive manner that exceeds the regulatory construction requirements and helps ensure ECU's wells do not contribute to the deterioration of this region's vital groundwater reserves.
In addition to protecting local ground water aquifers through the installation of wells exceeding federal and state construction standards, special consideration was given to reducing ECU's environmental impact from utilizing local groundwater supplies and insuring compliance with the proposed groundwater regulations. As a result, each well was designed to withdraw water from a different aquifer, thereby minimizing the impact on each individual aquifer. Although all three wells are intended to be utilized, ECU plans to rely primarily on the shallow, most confined aquifer for the majority of water since this water is unsuitable for use by the region as a potable water source.
Each of ECU's campuses has also implemented their own conservation measures. The ECU East Campus has installed a central chiller plant to support four modern chilling units with two more planned when adequate funding becomes available. This modernized, central system will ultimately provide cooling to most of the buildings located on East Campus and eliminate the need for cooling towers and chillers located at each building. This reduces the cost to ECU and the North Carolina taxpayers by requiring less equipment, electricity and water, as well as requiring fewer and less toxic chemicals to maintain and operate than traditional systems. It also provides more space in our buildings and a more aesthetically pleasing campus by eliminating the need for equipment inside and outside each building.
The ECU West Campus already utilizes a central chiller plant system. However, it is currently undergoing an expansion that will triple the area of the campus and its buildings. This expansion will significantly increase operation and maintenance costs. These costs are being minimized through the installation of modernized energy efficient equipment, and water treatment operations that eliminate or significantly reduce the quantity and toxicity of chemicals used to maintain and operate traditional systems. The installation of these wells also reduces the cost because the well water costs less than the treated water supplied by Greenville Utilities.
With the leadership and expertise of Dr. Richard Spruill (ECU Geology), the Office of Environmental Health and Safety, ECU Facilities Services and the NCDENR Office of Water Resources were able to create a program that provides appropriate measures for properly managing the water resources available to ECU through regional aquifers. This allows ECU to reduce its demand on local drinking water for this significant facility cooling need, thus saving this vital community resource and the energy and materials needed to treat and supply it to campus.