Duke University has opened a 5.5-acre water reclamation pond on campus that is projected to save up to 100 million gallons of water a year.

The $11.5 million project will collect rainwater and runoff from 22 percent of the main area of the Durham, N.C., campus. Water from the pond will be used in cooling towers at the nearby Chilled Water Plant #2, which pumps water across campus to cool buildings.

Duke estimates reuse of that storm water instead of water from the city of Durham will save the university about $400,000 per year.

“The pond will incorporate sustainability in a very real way, allowing us to reduce our reliance on city water while creating a new community gathering space,” says said Casey Roe, outreach coordinator with Sustainable Duke.

Gravel and mulch paths create a winding walking loop of nearly a mile around the pond. The 12-acre site has 41,000 plants, including dozens of varieties of grasses and shrubs.

Other amenities include an observation deck and a boardwalk that extends onto the water. Environmental, biology and even recreation classes plan to use the pond for research and activities.

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