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June 30, 2009

University of Virginia’s water usage hits 6-year high; Water data adjusted for 2008 meter error

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20090629-UVA-H20 By Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Monday, June 29, 2009

The University of Virginia’s rate of public water usage has increased by about 42.1 million gallons from the previous year.  In the fiscal year that ends this week, the University reports that it has used about 511.6 million gallons of water during 2008-09, that is an increase of almost 9% from the 469.5 million gallons used during 2007-08.  The 42.1 million gallons of additional water used would fill a pool the size of a football field to a depth of about 117 feet.

In a November 2008 article, Charlottesville Tomorrow assessed the University’s water usage trends.  This past month, the University provided Charlottesville Tomorrow with updated data covering the past school year.  In their response, the University reported that a meter error had been corrected in fall of 2008 which added another 65.8 million gallons to their water bill from the City of Charlottesville.  According to Ric Barrick, the City’s Director of Communications, Charlottesville collected $167,440 in additional water fees from the University once the discrepancy was resolved.  The adjustment also led the University to restate its FY 2007-08 water usage, increasing the total for that year by 3.89%.

Because the University uses approximately 7 - 8% of the total water distributed by the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA), these updated usage estimates are relevant to the ongoing discussion over the 50-year community water supply plan.

The University of Virginia provided the following additional information about water usage in the 2008-09:

  • There was approximately 14.8 million gallons of additional water consumption related to newly constructed facilities (3% of the FY 2008-09 total).
  • Water usage data for the current and previous fiscal year have been restated after a meter configuration error was detected early in FY 2008-09.  The City of Charlottesville issued a billing correction for approximately 65.8 million gallons of estimated water usage. Part of this correction (approximately 17.6 million gallons) was accounting for consumption that actually occurred in FY 2007-08.
  • The corrected water usage total for FY 2007-08 is 469.5 million gallons.
  • The University experienced a few water line breaks in FY 2008-09 which resulted in water being lost from the distribution system. The University is still gathering information on these events to estimate the amount of water loss.

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