Campus water use

Water is used in all sorts of operations on campus.  Some of which include: day-to-day living in the residence halls, cooling campus buildings in warmer months (A/C), food preparation and sanitation in the dining halls, landscaping for campus beautification, and sanitation and drinking water in every building across campus.  These are the primary uses of water on campus.  Below is a table showing total campus water use over the past several years. 

Fiscal Year Ccf* (100 cubic feet) % change from previous year
2012 183,310 + 4.05
2011 176,175 + 4.78
2010 168,133 - 2.99
2009 173,318 + 2.12
2008 169,723  

*1 Ccf is roughly 748 US gallons.

Water use reduction initiatives

As you can see, Marquette is a major consumer of fresh water.  Although total water use is currently increasing, several projects and initiatives have been implemented over recent years to help slow this increase, and eventually lead towards overall decreases in campus water use. 

Although there have been recent projects to help reduce water use, one major roadblock to larger efficiency upgrades is that our cost of water is extremity low.  This means that the payback time, or return on investment, for water saving projects is not always acceptable, and that money can be put to better use somewhere else.  That is not the case in the west and southwest U.S. where water prices are higher and droughts are more prevalent. 

However, as stewards of the Great Lakes region, we have the capacity and potential leadership – including academics, government and corporate – to lead the world in fresh water research and innovation.  Which is exactly what Milwaukee is trying to accomplish through the Milwaukee 7 Water Council

Hidden water use

Even though Marquette consumes a lot of water, it is important to put that consumption into perspective. According to the EPA (per data from U.S. Geological Service Circular 1344), Domestic freshwater withdrawals account for 8.5% of total consumption, whereas Thermoelectric and Irrigation consume 41.5% and 37%, respectively, of total water withdrawals.  These two hidden water uses come in the form of the energy we use and the food we eat.  The easiest ways to reduce these hidden water uses in your personal life is to reduce the amount of energy you use and the amount of meat you eat.  Why meat?  It takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat, where it only takes 25 gallons to produce one pound of wheat (Source:, with supporting link for “Water Inputs in California Food Production” by Marcia Kreith). 

If you’re interested in reducing your meat consumption, even if just by a little, check out the Meatless Monday movement. 

How you can help

Besides eating less meat, there are several other ways you can help save water, both at home and for Marquette.  Some of these ways include:

Water resources

Meter Hero
Great Lakes Basin Compact
Milwaukee Metropolitan Water District (MMSD)
Milwaukee Water Council
Milwaukee Water Works
WDNR – Water topics

If you would like us to add any additional information pertaining to campus water use to this page, please don’t hesitate to send your requests to



Contact the Office of Sustainability

Is this site missing any information you would like to see? Is it missing your program or another program on campus that should be featured? Do you have suggestions for making Marquette a more sustainable university? If so, please contact us:

Phone: 414-288-1463