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Students innovating water conservation projects - and pitch your own!

NUS�s Student Eats programme supports sustainable food enterprises on campuses and in the community. In partnership with The Worshipful Company of Water Conservators, last year, we offered enterprises the chance to win between �200 and �1500 to support a water-saving initiative. 

The Worshipful Company of Water Conservators (Water Conservation Trust) spreads awareness of the science, art and practice of water and environmental management. Through this opportunity, they supported Student Eats projects in improving the water efficiency of their operations, and to raise awareness of the importance of water conservation. 

Various groups applied, proposing practical projects including irrigation networks and water harvesting systems. To celebrate their successes, here's a roundup of the winning projects' progress.  

University of Exeter 


The team here has developed a gravity feed water system for their garden with their prize money � apparently the plants have been extremely grateful for it during the recent heatwaves! An irrigation system for raised beds is underway, too. Oliver Sanders has been the project's lead volunteer; every Wednesday they hold a meeting and extra Saturday workshops bring more volunteers - "enhancing the ethos of the Community Garden as a shared, and sharing experience," says Dr Paul Cleave, Honorary Research Fellow at the University.  

University of Warwick 


The team here has made great progress with their solar powered irrigation system. "We have long since faced the challenge of keeping our polytunnel watered, and thus planned to use a solar panel and pump to do it for us," says Stephen Clifford, former Allotment Society President. The project has overcome some challenges due to higher-than-expected costs, but have overcome these by scaling back the project. The spring crops are already benefitting, and they hope to get things totally up and running over the summer! 

University of Sheffield 


The multi-purpose water conservation structure at Sheffield enables rainwater harvesting and all-weather gardening at their Endcliffe allotments. The project volunteers have done things such as levelling the ground, digging and installing foundcations, and working on the 'superstructure'! "Although it hasn't always been easy working against the elements, and manually mixing concrete," says Joseph Hook, PhD researcher in the Department of Civil and Structural Engineering, "the team have stuck at it, and are well on the way to finishing a project that will benefit the whole sustainability focussed community at the University.  

Lancaster University  

watering plants

Three students have taken the lead on this polytunnel project - an engineering student, a conservation student, and a hydrology student � cutting the parts and installing them themselves. They've also innovated on their design as they've progressed; revising things to include new parts that will optimise the installation's effectiveness and efficiency. Their next step is to start digging the main water line trench to the polytunnel itself! Finally, they're installing a timer system to manage the water use and optimise irrigation supply to the plants. 

Inspired to develop your own growing site in this way? Exisiting Student Eats growing sites - or new ones, you can join for free - are invited to apply to this opportunity again! Find out how here, dealine of 9am Monday 12th November. 

Congratulations to all these innovative and important water conservation projects, and thank you so much to the Water Conservation Trust for their kind support.