Loyola University Chicago

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Loyola University Chicago

Institute of Environmental Sustainability

Water Conservation

Loyola is located along the shores of a national treasure, Lake Michigan. And the University recognizes that, with such close proximity, the potential to undervalue the Lake's gifts—fresh drinking water, recreational amenities and more—can exist.

Therefore, from faculty to administration, staff, and students, Loyola is the leading university in Chicago on aquatic research, takes a stand on fair access to drinking water, and conserves the precious resource that is also known as "blue gold".

Access to Water: A Human Right. Local to Global

Following a two year-long educational campaign, Loyola students voted to end the sale of bottled water on campus. The students consider the sale of bottled water on campus in conflict with the Jesuit tradition and Loyola's mission 'to be in service of humanity through learning, justice and faith'. Additionally, the students believe that "access to water is a fundamental human right and must not be handled in ways that put profits over people".

  • Year one of the campaign included a week-long Water Colloquium which included screenings of Blue Gold: World Water Wars and Tapped; a speaker series that started with the author and activist, Maude Barlow, internationally recognized for her fight against water privatization; and Tap Water Challenges
  • Year two, the Student Environmental Alliance (SEA) worked with the Unified Student Government Association (USGA) to put forth a referendum seeking USGA's support to ban the sale of bottled water on campus and to include the proposed ban on the spring 2012 ballot which allowed the student body to vote on the issue.
  • During year two, SEA heavily marketed the UnCap LUC pledge, a pledge that is nonbinding which allowed the opportunity for students to learn about the impacts of the bottled water industry on people, the environment and the inefficient use of fossil fuels.
  • The pledge allowed students to discuss and debate fair access to clean, safe drinking water.

Visit UnCap LUC for more details and answers to frequently asked questions regarding the bottled water campaign.

Reusable Water Bottles and Water Refill Stations

During the bottled water ban campaign, UnCap LUC, students in SEA met with the Facilities Management Department regularly to discuss ways to allow people on campus to refill reusable water bottles conveniently and easily. Facilities responded by retrofitting over 35 water fountains with Refill Stations.

The Office of First Year Experience have been supplying all new students with reusable water bottles and remain committed to continue to do so.

It is easy to find the nearest water refill station using our maps:

Aquatic Ecology Research

Strong faculty leadership on aquatic ecology and regional water issues includes research on area waterways, Lake Michigan and public health impacts of water quality. The Departments of Biology and Environmental Science house faculty research projects investigating various issues relevant to local and global hydrologic systems. Undergraduate and graduate student research collaborations and fellowships introduce the experience of theoretical and applied research.

  • Martin Berg, Aquatic Ecologist, Biology Dept. currently is investigating Great Lakes food webs and energy flow
  • Tham Hoang, Ecotoxicologist, Center for Urban Environmental Research & Policy (CUERP) researches the influence of chemical and physical characteristics of water, sediments and soils on the bioavailability and toxicity of contaminants to aquatic organisms
  • Timothy Hoellein, Aquatic Ecologist, Biology Dept. researches the effects of 1) restoration strategies and 2) seasonal change on ecosystem processes in aquatic environments.
  • Christopher Peterson, Aquatic Ecologist, Environmental Science Dept., focuses his research on understanding how the structure, dynamics, and function of attached microalgal vary with spatial and temporal change in chemical, physical, and biological attributes of the environment.
  • Nancy Tuchman, Aquatic Ecologist, Vice Provost researches impacts to Great Lakes ecosystems as a result of human activity resulting in invasive species dominance, emerging contaminants on streams and lakes, and most recently, the exploration and development of environmentally and economically sustainable restoration options.
  • Reuben P. Keller, Aquatic Ecologist, Environmental Science Dept., research explores the links and feedbacks among global environmental change, human economic systems, and human behavior.  Presently working on a project that aims to develop tools for predicting the identity of likely future invasive species in the Great Lakes.

STEP: Water

Students in STEP: Water course study current and historical, global and local issues regarding water conservation, and have the opportunity to initiate and lead campus projects pertaining to the issues. Student group projects include:

  • Investigating emerging contaminants in drinking water and aquatic ecosystems
  • Exploring irrigation and rainwater collection on campus including the Urban Agriculture Demonstration Gardens that are applicable for existing infrastructure
  • Developing an aquaponics and sustainable fish farming initiative
  • Identifying and implementing best approaches to increase awareness and action related to water conservation policies on campus

Storm Water Management

Water use for irrigation has been decreased and the stormwater diversion from the sewer system back into Lake Michigan has been dramatically increased to 13 million gallons per year.  Green roofs have been installed and more are underway on over 50,000 square feet of roof space and will result in 8 LEED Certified buildings. Read more about our Water Conservation focus. For more information, see Storm Water Management.


Water smart landscaping requires the incorporation of drought tolerant vegetation and technology. On campus implementation of such includes a "Smart Irrigation System" which uses weather station data and sections landscaped areas into zones to conserve water.

  • The irrigation system is on zones and tied back to a controller and remains off except during hot, dry spells
  • Spray heads reduce water use by 30%
  • Watering takes place during early morning hours when evaporation rates are the lowest
  • During dry spells, grass and other vegetation are watered only three days a week with varying times of 3-5 minutes to 15-20 minutes.
  • Each zone has a rain sensor that shuts down watering if rain is detected. 

And due to the "smart" system that senses moisture due to rainfall, the irrigation system was used only in August during a cool, wet summer in 2010.

Most of the plants on Loyola's campuses do not require much in the way of water, but given the sandy soil around the Lake Shore Campus, irrigation is the most efficient way to get water to trees and shrubs when stressful, dry conditions exist. The irrigation remains off except during hot dry spells. During dry spells the grass is watered three days a week for 15 to 20 minutes and shrubs are watered three times a week for 3 to 5 minutes. We now use new spray heads that are more efficient and reduce water use by 30%. The new heads will replace the other heads over time.

Gentle De-icing

Facilities Management oversees the maintenance of campus grounds such as landscaping and snow removal. Recognizing the importance of protecting the watershed and Lake Michigan, Facilities Management applies sugar beet-based anti-icing granules. The sugar beet-based application is applied to campus roads and sidewalks before and during snowy, icy weather to effectively melt snow and ice for safe conditions.


Institute of Environmental Sustainability
Loyola University Chicago · 1032 W. Sheridan Road
Chicago, IL 60660 · Phone: 773-508-2130 · IES@luc.edu

Notice of Non-discriminatory Policy