Water consumption

The University's water consumption for August 2020-July 2021 was 611,732 m3.

Preventing water system pollution

We have processes to prevent polluted water entering the water system, including pollution caused by accidents and incidents at the university. As detailed in the Code of Practice for Design Teams, Sustainable Urban Drainage systems to drain surface water and minimise pollution need to be specified in the project.

Our project tracker requires all building projects to:

  • Reduce the total demand of potable water.
  • Reduce storm water run-off and minimise negative environmental impact by using Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems.

We ensure that we adhere to UK government guidelines on water discharge and standards to uphold water quality and protect ecosystems, wildlife, and human health and welfare. We also have a target of zero pollution incidents for emissions and discharges.

Our policies and processes help ensure that we prevent and reduce marine pollution of all kinds, which includes our policies on plastics and reducing the effect of land-based activities.

Sustainable water extraction on campus

The University of Manchester’s Code of Practice for Design Teams requires all capital projects to complete and sign off the University’s bespoke Environmental Sustainability Project Tracker or Tracker Lite. Within the Tracker is a section on water and drainage, with criteria on sustainable urban drainage. Requirements include:

  • Ensuring that the new design has no greater run-off from the site than pre development following EA guidance;
  • Investigating potential of using permeable surface and minimising impervious area.
  • Recording pre-development proportion of permeable surfaces and aim at increasing it.
  • Prioritising SUDs solutions that support the increase of biodiversity, habitat creation and local transpirative cooling.

Recent capital projects reaching completion have experienced limitations to sustainable urban drainage (SUDs) due to local ground conditions and buried basements, but have nonetheless implemented:

  • Green infrastructure, planting to increase interception and transpiration, and bio-retention tree pits for irrigation of trees. These are not connected to the drainage network to avoid actively discharging land drainage to the local sewer network and thus reducing impact within the catchment areas.
  • Green roofs to bring additional absorbency.
  • Introduction of permeable landscaping to previous hard landscaped areas.
  • Blue roof systems to attenuate stormwater runoff.
  • Attenuation via below ground drainage infrastructure sized to meet a minimum 30% reduction beyond existing runoff. This is bettered for lower return periods where up to a 55 % reduction in peak runoff rate can be achieved for the 1 in 30 year storm.

(Note, this information has been taken from ES Trackers and reports for the following projects: MECD, Royce Institute, Pankhurst Institute)

Water use reduction in offices

Staff that work in an office need to think about how they can manage water use in the most efficient and effective ways. By taking a few simple steps, staff working in offices can reduce their water use intake.

Please see our guidance document on water use reduction in offices for tips and ideas.

Water use reduction in labs

Those that work in a lab need to think about how they can manage water use in the most efficient and effective ways, whilst still carrying out safe lab practices.

By following a few simple actions outlined in the guidance document you can help to reduce your water usage whilst carrying out necessary operations in the lab, from recirculating water to efficient use of purified water.

Please see the water use reduction in labs guidance document for more tips and ideas.

Water at the University is managed by the Mechanical and Energy Team. Visit their website for guidance on how to reduce and manage your energy use.


We reuse rain water on campus and all of our water is treated by United Utilites at one of their 569 wastewater treatment works.