SDG Observatory

Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.


Clean Water and Sanitation Globally

Many parts of the world still struggle with access to clean water and sanitation. It is estimated that across the world, 1 in 4 people do not have access to safe drinking water nor basic hand-washing facilities. Access to water is not only essential for survival, but seeps into many other aspects of society.

Sanitation facilities in schools are essential for young girls to be able to manage menstrual cycles while receiving an education. Access to clean water also reduced gender inequality, as the burden to find water often falls upon women in developing countries.

Past sanitation and access to clean drinking water, SDG 6 [Sustainable Development Goal 6] is also an issue that will be impacted by SDG 13 [Sustainable Development Goal 13] : Climate Action. As world temperatures and populations increase, access to water will only become more limited. Water will become an area of society that drives conflict and further equity issues.


Clean Water and Sanitation Locally

Fortunately, drinking water in Dallas goes through extensive sanitation and management procedures, making it safe for consumption. However, recent events have proven that access to clean water can quickly be disrupted. During the 2021 winter storm, many households were put under boil orders and some lost access to running water entirely.

The DFW [Dallas / Fort Worth] area is also prone to drought, so sustainable water management practices are essential for the maintenance of lifestyles in North Texas. Researchers from the University of Texas at Arlington estimate that between 2041 and 2050, DFW [Dallas / Fort Worth] will see extreme temperatures rise above 120, as well as longer droughts and more extreme rainstorms. Ensuring that water is used sustainability on campus at UT Dallas contributes to more sustainable practices and climate readiness in the future.



The Thirst Project at UTD

SDG 1: No Poverty
SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being
A combination water fountatin and water bottle filling station.

Water bottle filling stations at UTD

The Thirst Project at UTD is an established student organization on campus and chapter of a nationwide nonprofit that is dedicated to ending the global water crisis. This is accomplished through 2 main goals: spreading awareness of the global water crisis and fundraising money to build freshwater wells in developing communities in need. The Thirst Project has raised over $10 million and started over 3,200 projects in 13 different countries to increase accessibility to clean water. You can learn more at their Instagram @utdthirstproject.


Water Use and Recovery

SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
Engineering & Computer Science West.

Photo Source: UTD Press Release

Potable water use on campus is estimated to be 7,907 gallons per person per year for an estimated total of 178,315,100 gallons of potable water for the campus annually.

UT Dallas recovers water at the LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] Platinum Student Services Building and LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] Gold Bioengineering and Sciences Building. The Student Services Building captures rainwater for irrigation use and Bioengineering and Sciences Building features an innovative system that captures rainwater, reverse osmosis reject water harvesting, and condensate capture and utilizes the water to reduce need for potable water in irrigation. UT Dallas has adopted constructions standards that require efficient fixtures in all capital projects and remodels. UT Dallas has also updated irrigation controllers in order only irrigate when plant water needs require that rainfall is supplemented, and to eliminate unnecessary irrigation.

With the new drive to building efficient, green, and/or LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] certified buildings at UT Dallas, bathrooms are of interest for water conservation efforts. Our Facilities Management team has taken the initiative to maximize water savings and conservation whenever possible when renovating bathrooms and/or replacing bathroom fixtures such as toilets, urinals, and faucets. This may include, but is not limited to, low-flush toilets and urinals, dual-flush toilets, and low-flow faucets.

In 2022, UT Dallas partnered with Plummer to complete a water audit of campus facilities. The results of this study are being used to determine high-impact areas for future plumbing retrofits.


Rainwater Management

SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
SDG 15: Life on Land

UT Dallas is located within the boundaries of the City of Richardson’s “urbanized area” (UA [Urbanized Area] ) and is regulated under the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ [Texas Commission on Environmental Quality] ) Phase II Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4 [Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System] ) permit. The overall goal of the MS4 [Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System] permit is to improve the water quality of Cottonwood Creek flowing through our campus into receiving waters, and to protect the US waterways from pollution. Environmental Affairs manages the University’s storm water compliance programs, including permitting, spill prevention, above-ground storage inspections, and outfall inspections. The Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan and Stormwater Management Plan is comprised of site maps, BMP details, inspection reports, spill reports, corrective action logs and associated waivers. Contractors who are involved with construction projects on campus must comply with all applicable regulations regarding stormwater protection. Because the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] and The Clean Water Act required a program for addressing the pollution caused by stormwater discharges, The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality implemented and managed the Texas Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (TPDES [Texas Pollutant Discharge Elimination System] ) Permitting Program to fulfill all Clean Water Act and federal mandates. By practicing health pollution prevention habits, campus community members can keep pollutants like dirt and common garbage that collect on paved areas from washing into storm drains.



Goals / Future Work

  • Continue sustainable water management in further development of the UTD campus
  • Expand programming about native plants through Tree Campus USA and Bee Campus USA


Learn More

  • Visit SDG Academy to take the online courses about Clean Water and Sanitation
  • Learn more about the targets and indicators at the UN Global Goals website

Compliance with Texas Senate Bill 17
The information on this page predates the signing into law of Texas Senate Bill 17 (SB17Senate Bill 17), and as such, should be considered an obsolete historical document which will either be changed or purged from this site in a future iteration, following the guidance of The University of Texas System.