Water Management at EPA
EPA’s goal is to minimize the amount of water used in its facilities. Another goal is to maintain water’s quality as it passes through a facility, its support infrastructure and landscape. EPA implements measures to conserve water at its facilities, reduce water for landscaping and manage stormwater as it feeds back into the environment.
In this section:
If you are looking for additional resources on how to manage water at your own facility, check out the EPA WaterSense program.
EPA Water Conservation Results
EPA reduced its water intensity by 38.9 percent in FY 2022 compared to FY 2007. EPA continues to manage water to maintain progress and implements water projects to reduce water consumption further.
Water Conservation in Laboratories
EPA occupies two main types of facilities: offices and laboratories. Plumbing, heating/cooling and irrigation needs comprise a large percentage of typical office water use. The agency has minimized those uses by installing high-efficiency plumbing fixtures and eliminating irrigation.
Laboratories use water for laboratory processes, water purification and steam sterilization. Laboratories also have significant heat loads, so a significant amount of water is used as cooling tower make-up. EPA has focused much of its water-saving efforts on laboratory facilities. EPA’s WaterSense program and the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories have published a best practice guide (pdf) that outlines several best practices EPA’s laboratories have undertaken.
In 2002, EPA began reducing its water footprint, prior to any federal requirements mandating water conservation. EPA’s water management planning and water use reduction efforts have produced significant results.
EPA water reduction strategies include:
- Monitoring water meters and tracking use
- Installing WaterSense labeled and other high efficiency restroom fixtures
- Eliminating single-pass cooling
- Optimizing cooling tower efficiency
- Minimizing or eliminating landscape irrigation.
Landscaping at EPA Facilities
In order to conserve water, EPA strives to eliminate water used for landscape irrigation. EPA facilities use native and low-water plant species, so very few facilities irrigate the landscape.
Looking for more information about water-smart landscaping and irrigation practices? Check out the EPA WaterSense resources.
In addition to these landscape irrigation water conservation projects, EPA is protecting pollinator habitats. Learn more about EPA's pollinator habitat effort.
- EPA's Research Triangle Park Main Campus in North Carolina was designed to have minimal impact on the native woodland landscape. Native and drought-tolerant plants were incorporated within the landscaped design, and no irrigation is required.
- The Great Lakes Toxicology and Ecology Division in Duluth, Minnesota, converted two acres of lawn in front of the laboratory to northern boreal meadow, native to northeastern Minnesota. No irrigation is required to maintain the meadow, and only occasional maintenance is needed to control exotic species and remove unwanted plants.