With thousands of students and faculty constantly on campus, colleges use up a ton of water. Although it flows freely from our sinks and showers, a lot of the time people and institutions don’t realize how limited and precious a resource water actually is. As the summer heat quickly approaches and California experiences its third consecutive year of a severe drought, it is important that Pierce finds ways to conserve and control the use of its water.
Luckily, Pierce has already jumped on the conservation bandwagon by implementing many environmentally conscious policies, which can be found online in the “Climate Action Plan.”
Some of the guidelines include collecting all storm water to re-use onsite, reducing potable water demand for all landscaping by a minimum of 50 percent, utilizing Xeriscaping (gardening that reduces or eliminates the need for supplemental water from irrigation) and drought resistant planting, reusing and collect greywater (wastewater generated from wash hand basins, showers and baths), reducing potable water demand for buildings by at least 40 percent and installing waterless urinals in all new and existing buildings.
Conservation on campus can go a long way to reduce environmental stress on our region and although the existing rules are beneficial, there can always be improvements to the system. The Department of Water and Power (LADWP) projected, for 2013-2014, the lowest ever water deliveries from the L.A. Aqueduct and the highest ever purchase of imported water on record. One of the easiest ways for the school to do its part to reduce its water usage is to follow the City’s Mandatory Water Conservation Ordinance, which can be found online on the L.A. Department of Water and Power’s website.
The ordinance, which has been in effect since 2009, limits outdoor watering to three days a week and prohibits residents and businesses from using water for landscaping purposes between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The campus needs to take these rules seriously and stop running the sprinklers during peak hours of the day to avoid the water being evaporated before the soil can absorb it.
Another way the campus can conserve its water usage is to fix faulty plumbing. A perfect example is in the beginning of the spring 2014 semester when a flood broke out on the Mall, spilling out gallons of water for almost an hour.
There was no plan of action, and as a result valuable time during which the emergency shut-off valve could have been closed was spent in an effort to locate the proper valve in the first place. The maintenance staff should train for such emergency situations and be ready to handle them to avoid problems.
Another problem location where water is wasted is in the soccer field next to the Village area.
For at least two years, water has leaked from an unspecified pipe and seeped into the ground, soaking parts of the soccer field and turning the ground into a muddy slush. There has been signs of work in trying to remedy the situation but it appears little progress has been made to fix the problem.
The Botanical Gardens is a great example of what can come from following a plan to fruition. Not only is the location beautiful, but it has water-efficient irrigation and landscaping that uses native and drought-resistant plants.
Enforcing such programs on campus would not only help in the conservation efforts of the state in this time of drought, but also save the campus money.
“More conservation will reduce our imported water purchases and save our customers money–it can make a serious difference,” said LADWP General Manager Ron Nichols according to the company website.