The Carolina Water Cooperative at UNC

A recent campus theme for UNC was “Water in Our World.” This theme was implemented to recognize the global crisis surrounding water access, hygiene, and sanitation. The Carolina ‘Water on Our Campus’ capstone, an environmental research team comprised of students, sought to give the campus a specific focus. This group of senior environmental students began by collaborating with area artists and environmentalists to find ways to integrate art in the form of info-sculptures onto campus sites to inform students of campus water use and water management practices. The overall focus was aimed at leaving an imprint on the UNC campus that will create long lasting awareness and promote education about water use and management on campus. The importance and details of water use on campus are not common knowledge for members of the UNC community.

The student group worked together to document a history of water and water management on UNC’s campus. A collection of historic Chapel Hill maps were georeferenced to better gauge the changes in landscape caused by construction, growth, and advancement of the water system. To accompany these maps, an account of the history of water management at UNC was written. The group came up with a number of different ideas, but the most significant one was that of an interactive pump. Anyone passing by could use the pump as a hand-washing station. The overall strategy for this ingenuity put forth by a student committee, was to increase the awareness of the average passerby as to the vast array of piping underneath the campus and how water is transported around campus using that piping. A question specific survey also accompanied this experiment which focused on student concern for water conservation, student knowledge of water on campus, and whether students were educated about water.


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