A Michigan Technological University undergraduate student has constructed a display that illustrates the amount of water each of us uses, and possibly wastes, on a daily basis.
Today, (March 22) is World Water Day, with this year’s theme being “Wastewater.” Since Monday, visitors to Michigan Tech’s Memorial Union Building, have gotten an up close and personal look at their daily usage of water, illustrated by a display featuring 90 one-gallon water jugs.
The display is the work of Caryn Murray, an environmental engineering major from Dearborn Heights, Michigan. Murray’s display has dozens of gallon jugs with colored caps corresponding with everyday water-related activities such as flushing a toilet, brushing teeth, washing dishes, etc.
Each activity features signs with tips on ways individuals can reduce their water consumption and possibly save money on water and sewer bills.
Murray says she was approached by Elizabeth Hoy of the Great Lakes Research Center to “take charge” of a display for World Water Day. “She (Hoy) envisioned creating some kind of display that would get people excited about the seminars and such that Tech puts on for the week,” Murray says. “As an environmental engineering major, wastewater is a common topic I’ve talked about and studied both in and out of classes.”
Murray, who was advised on the project by David Watkins, professor of civil and environmental engineering, says she was excited to work on it as she had learned a great deal about the various aspects of wastewater. “But I hadn’t really considered how much water an individual could contribute to wastewater during the course of an average day.”
Hoy says the idea of a large display came out of discussions of a committee planning Tech’s observance of World Water Day. “The committee discussed the idea of a central display in a high-traffic area that would be informative as well as draw attention to this year’s theme of wastewater.”
Hoy says an anchor of Tech’s World Water Day activities is the student poster competition that provides students, both undergraduate and graduate, an opportunity to present their water-related research or classwork visually through the creation of a poster and verbally through a five-minute pitch to a panel of judges.
Hoy says Murray’s display in the MUB created a new facet to the observation of World Water Day. “We tasked Caryn with developing a display that would be visually appealing and informative for a general audience and something that everyone, students, faculty and the general community alike, could relate to.”
"I hadn't really considered how much water an individual could contribute to wastewater during the course of an average day."
Murray, who has worked on research projects with GLRC Director Guy Meadows, concedes wastewater “isn’t the most glamorous topic.” Still, she wanted to make the display informational in a way to which all could relate.
“We decided to go with gallon jugs in the display to make sure we conveyed the total volume of water that could be sent to a wastewater treatment plant. The average American uses anywhere from 60-100 gallons of water each day,” Murray says.
Murray hopes her display creates a “more thoughtful mindset.”
She states, “Some of tips are easy to do, and they can add up to a large number of gallons of water conserved each year. Making habits out of some of these actions can reduce gallons of water wasted by the hundreds if not thousands, over the course of one’s lifetime.”
Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, the University offers more than 125 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.