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Sustainability Program

Water Management

Thoughtful stewardship of water resources

Water resources play an integral role in providing world-class research facilities at Argonne.

Our potable water comes from Lake Michigan and we use it for domestic and laboratory purposes. We also use non-potable (industrial) water from the Illinois and Michigan Canal in cooling towers for our buildings.

Significant results in water reduction goals

Argonne has realized tremendous savings from aggressive potable water reduction strategies, providing leadership in water management techniques for communities in the greater Lake Michigan watershed. We have achieved our 2025 goal to reduce potable water use intensity by 36% from a FY2007 baseline. Argonne is also on track to achieve our 2025 goal of 30% reduction in industrial water use.

Water efficiency strategies and technologies are integrated throughout the campus, including:

  • Low-flow and WaterSense toilets, faucets, and showerheads
  • Retrofits to switch potable water use to industrial water
  • Water reuse projects at cooling towers, water treatment plant and canal treatment plant
  • Energy efficiency projects that reduce potable and process water
  • Upgrades to chiller plants and central chilled water system
  • No-potable water for landscape, using industrial water only for plant establishment
     

We’ve accomplished our goal despite the fact that an aging water infrastructure also contributes to water loss such as leaks and water main breaks.

To continue reducing water use, we are implementing an integrated energy and water management approach that takes advantage of energy reduction strategies to reduce cooling tower makeup water, chilled water, steam, and domestic hot water across office and laboratory buildings.

Green Infrastructure

Green infrastructure is an important water management strategy and complements the wetland, woodland, and prairie habitats across our 1,500-acre campus. We have implemented green infrastructure by building rain gardens and bioswales and converting turf grass to prairie grass. Green infrastructure is used in the design of new buildings and, when feasible, in the rehabilitation of existing buildings. We also implement integrated pest management and other landscape management best practices. Learn more