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Purple Pipe Goes Burnt Orange as UT Welcomes Reclaimed Water

The normally burnt orange University of Texas campus is looking a little more purple.

Today, campus and city officials celebrated the completion of a project that installed purple pipes on campus. The university is estimating these pipes, connected to Austin Water’s reclaimed water system, will save the campus 70 million gallons of drinking water annually.

“The university is very interested in conservation and we pursue it in every way that we can, and I think this is a good example of an effort that has paid off for everyone,” said Pat Clubb, vice president for University Operations.

Purple pipes carry reclaimed water, which is former wastewater that has been treated to remove impurities. Normally this kind of water is dumped into rivers or oceans, but these pipes and Austin Water's reclaim system use the water as a recycled resource for non-drinking purposes. The pipes are purple to signify the water in them is reclaimed water. 

Reclaimed water at UT will be used for cooling purposes. Clubb said UT is one of the few campuses that uses purple pipes.

At a celebratory event Wednesday afternoon, Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell thanked UT for the partnership with the city. In 2006, Leffingwell chaired a city water conservation committee, where officials looked to reclaimed water as a way to be more efficient and sustainable. 

“One of the important parts of our water conservation efforts was to step up the use of reclaimed water,” Leffingwell said. “The University of Texas has really stepped up to the plate on this.”

The purple pipes installed on UT’s campus connect to Chilling Station No. 5. Juan Ontiverous, executive director of UT’s Utilities and Energy Management Department, said 125,000 gallons of water rest on top of Station No. 5.

“This project to use reclaimed water not only saves water, but it also saves money,” Ontiverous said. “We use a lot of water, so we’ve been focusing on improving our efficiency.”

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