Water Line Repair Saves Thousands of Gallons Daily

August 01, 2011

Steam Water Line Repair
Knox College facilities staff workers roll the pipe for a water line into a trench south of Old Main.

Repairs to underground water pipes at Knox College are saving thousands of gallons of water daily, according to College officials. During June and July, college workers replaced some 600 feet of underground water pipe across the center of campus.

Steam Water Line Repair"Our boiler-water consumption has dropped from between 4,000 and 11,000 gallons per day to roughly 400 gallons per day," said Scott Maust, director of facilities services. Knox's main heating plant creates steam that is piped to buildings throughout the 82-acre campus. At individual buildings, the steam is condensed back to water as it is used for both heating and cooling. The condensate water is then returned to the heating plant via underground lines.

"One of the old condensate water return lines had deteriorated because of age and because it was installed too close to the hot steam supply line," Maust says. "From time to time we've replaced short sections of the return line, but it was getting progressively worse, and this year we found another leak."

The repaired underground line stretches from Seymour Library across the heart of campus past Seymour Union and Old Main. Future work will install another 400 feet of new pipe, under South Cherry Street and back to the heating plant. All of the work was performed by the College's facilities crews.

"Our condensate return rate -- the percentage of water in our system that we're recovering -- has gone from about 75% up to 93%," Maust said. "In a large-scale heating system, having a 93% return rate is almost unheard of."

As part of Knox's ongoing sustainability initiatives, the College realized siginficant water savings, starting in 2007 through the elimination of cafeteria trays.