How much do we use?

Water is a valuable yet often overlooked natural resource, one that we often take for granted. Here at the University, we use more than 600,000 cubic meters (CuM) of water per year, resulting in an annual expenditure of over £1.5 million on this invaluable resource.

Maintaining a reliable and safe supply of potable water for approximately 35,000 students and 7,000 staff is a fundamental requirement for the smooth operation of the University. The University currently consumes an estimated 1.97 million liters (1.97 Ml) of potable water per day, which accounts for approximately 0.8% of Nottinghamshire's total water consumption. We have set a reduction target in line with Severn Trent's 2019 Water Management Plan to reduce our consumption by 36% by 2040, using the 2019 consumption as a baseline.

Over the past five years, there has been a general downward trend in water consumption across the campus, driven by investments in metering, leak detection, and the acquisition of low-water consumption equipment. This includes the decommissioning of cooling towers at the Medical School, with the installation of new electric chillers.

At Jubilee Campus, we hold an abstraction license (EA03/28/63/011R02) and tap into the aquifer, using a borehole supply for non-evaporative cooling, topping up ponds on campus as part of the natural habitat, and toilet flushing at the Conference Center. To ensure the protection of groundwater resources in the area, we reduced our abstraction license volumes in 2015 and continue to keep them under review.

Water management on campus 

It is not just through our taps, showers, and processes that we work to manage and conserve our water usage. We have a number of greywater and brown water harvesting systems across the estate, as well as several Sustainable Urban Drainage systems, green roofs, and thoughtful planting. Through our grey and brown water harvesting system we reused more than 10,250,000 litres of water in 2020/21. These measures help us manage and minimize our water usage while also mitigating the risks of climate-induced occurrences.

Throughout our development and refurbishment activities, we prioritize water management through the adoption of BREEAM. We also ensure the prioritization of water-efficient technologies and appliances while maintaining water compliance across the estate.

Our laboratory environments have the potential to consume significant amounts of water. Through our Sustainable Labs program, we actively target water management and savings projects.

Everyone in the university community can play their part in ensuring that we are efficient with our water usage. By taking a few simple steps, we can all make a difference.


Waste water

We use a significant amount of water in various locations, and to ensure that we protect downstream water sources and treatment plants, we actively collaborate with Severn Trent Water to manage the water that we discharge into the sewer. We have legally binding discharge consents in place and, in conjunction with the regulator, actively monitor what we release into the drainage system. Our wastewater is treated at local wastewater treatment facilities.

We have a number of watercourses on or in the vicinity of our campuses, and to mitigate any risk of pollution entering these, we have a spills policy and procedure in place. This allows us to contain, clean up and safely dispose of any materials before they find their way into local watercourses.

If you notice a spill please contact University security on 0115 9513013


The University actively collaborates with a number of partners across the city and wider to help manage our regions valuable water resources and ecosystems, whether that be through our academic expertise in managing the blue green infrastructure on the River Leen to our broader interdisciplinary research as well as developing partnerships with organisation such as the Canals and Rivers Trust and Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust.  

Our strong links with Severn Trent Water have stimulated discussion about an opportunity to use our campuses as test-beds for various water-related initiatives. Water facilities include: the dairy farm with onsite slurry tanks to assess wastewater techniques; European and gravity satellites to identify global water sites; virtual reality to bring underwater archaeology to life; flood modelling and analysis equipment; and a nanoscale research centre to analyse water composition. 

In line with the University’s civic agenda, we  also engages with local community activities, such as engagement with the Nottingham City Council (Blue-Green Cities initiative), Attenborough Nature Reserve, Papplewick Pumping Station and Pint-of-Science.

Collaborative working has led to a joint project with Nottingham City Council and the University to monitoring water quality and sediment levels within Highfields Lake, a large aquatic habitat that is jointly managed by the University and Local Authority. 

Water filling stations

Want to find out where you can refill your water bottle?


Sustainability Team

Estate Office, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD