It’s not a new effort: The University started using recycled water for some purposes in 2002. It has cut its per-person use of potable water by 29 percent since 2005, and potable water use per square foot of building space has fallen 21 percent since 2005. But given the need to conserve even more, the University is looking at new ways to cut back.
Lindsey Kalkbrenner, director of the Center for Sustainability at Santa Clara University, emphasizes efforts at conservation the University has undertaken in the last several years:
Efficient fixtures and plumbing. The University has installed motion-activated faucets, low-flow showers and toilets, and waterless urinals. “The interesting thing is that the waterless urinals saved us money on the labor associated with maintaining the plumbing,” Kalkbrenner said. “It was a retrofit we did just thinking about water, but we actually got other benefits from it.”
Recycled water for irrigation. The beautiful University campus obviously requires water to maintain. Today, more than 85 percent of the campus landscape is irrigated with recycled water, Kalkbrenner said. This is water that has been used once, sent to a water treatment facility for treatment that is less extensive than what is used for drinking water, then sent back to the campus in purple pipes. Recycled water is not drinkable, but is used for irrigation and for flushing toilets in some buildings.
- Synthetic turf. Bellomy Field and Stanton Soccer Field are both synthetic, which takes less water than real grass. (They do still require some water, though, for washing and to keep the temperature down on hot days. But the amount is less than grass would need.)
- Weather monitoring. Although it doesn’t help during a drought when it’s not raining, the University’s sprinkler systems use a weather monitoring system so that they don’t come on if it has been raining.
- Native plants. The University has been increasing the use of native plants, which don’t require much water, in its landscaping.
- Swimming pool cover. Covering the pool at night is one way to help prevent evaporation.
- Submeters. Submeters help monitor water use in individual buildings or parts of campus, making it easier to pinpoint opportunities to reduce use further.
- Education. The University has had an ongoing education program to encourage saving water.