COMMANDER’S CORNER - It takes community to become Net Zero

By Col. Andrew Cole | GARRISON COMMANDER | March 03, 2014

Fort Riley is leading the Army’s quest to become an exemplary steward of our nation’s drinking water. As a demonstration of that leadership, we are striving to achieve challenging goals, including reducing the amount of water we use, first by 25 percent, and, ultimately, by at least half. We can’t rely on technology alone to meet those goals – we could replace every toilet, showerhead and faucet at Fort Riley with water-efficient models and still not reach our goals.


All of us who live, work or play Fort Riley will have to pitch in and use our water more efficiently – use it smarter.

To help us be smarter water users, we are rolling out a campaign in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Research and Development to promote smart water use during a few key activities – showering, shaving and watering yards.

As part of the campaign, fifth-grade students who attend Fort Riley schools will soon bring home pledge forms families can use to voluntarily join in the campaign.  

Families who pledge to conserve water while showering, shaving and watering their yards will be eligible to win a variety prizes, including gift certificates to local restaurants.

To support those families’ water-conserving efforts by providing them measured feedback on their success, water meters are being installed in a small group of sample homes across the installation, including the homes of some of the volunteering families. It is important to note the meters are not for billing purposes and will not be used for that purpose.


If you would like to participate in the campaign, but do not have a fifth-grader, or if you have questions or concerns about water metering, contact Fort Riley’s Water Conservation Campaign coordinator at 785-239-8663.

I encourage Soldiers and family members living at Fort Riley to volunteer. A few small changes in your water use could add up to big water and cost savings for Fort Riley, which will help the Army conserve the resources it needs to fulfill its mission now and in the future.

Editor’s Note: Fort Riley was designated a Net-Zero Water Installation in 2011. A Net-Zero Water Installation is defined as one that limits the consumption of fresh water and returns water back to the same watershed, so as not to deplete the groundwater and surface water resources of that region in quantity or quality.   If you would like to comment on this article or suggest a topic for Community Corner, email or visit my Facebook page at