CLU sets goal to save 18 gallons of water

As part of a water conservation initiative, California Lutheran University has posted signs around campus bringing awareness to their effort to preserve water and encourage students to do their part as the university tries to save 18 million gallons of water.

“Our goal is to save 18 million gallons of water through just the reduction of areas that have been completely eliminated from irrigation and from the water cut back that Cal American Water is asking us to do,” Mark Jacobsen, the director of Facility Management, said. “It doesn’t take into account the time in the winter where we turn everything off. We turn them off from about Dec. 5 until some time in the middle of March.” To raise awareness about this new plan, there have been signs posted on-campus letting students know of this new water conservation effort.

“The signs are part of an effort to communicate both a practice and a value—that is, we are not watering many parts of the campus because we are committed to conserving water during this time of extreme drought,” Sam Thomas, a religion professor and member of the sustainability committee, said in an email interview.

Because California is in a drought, Cal Lutheran taking steps to conserve water as much as possible is becoming increasingly important.

“This initiative was prompted by the fact of the current historic drought, and by new state regulations for water districts and consumers,” Thomas said.

Not only is this effort done for environmental reasons, but there are also new regulations put in place by Cal American Water, Cal Lutheran’s water purveyor, prompting a larger conservation effort.

“There are regulations that are reducing our water use in the landscape by 15 minutes once a week. For every irrigation valve that we got out there, we’re only supposed to water at a maximum 15 minutes once a week,” Jacobsen said.

In addition to following regulations, Cal Lutheran has taken the initiative to turn off almost all of the watering systems, except for the watering systems that tend the baseball and softball fields.

“When we were watering regularly, we were reducing areas down to water two times for 15 minutes one week and not water the week after. Since we’re getting a little rainfall here and there, we have now turned the water off completely with the exception of the baseball field and the softball field because it’s their season to play so they need good, safe turf to play on,” Jacobsen said.

In addition to shutting off the water, there will be weekly readings of the water meters to track how much water is being used.

“Based on weekly reading of meters, we can see what the overall usage is, and another thing I wanted to do is see what it’s like when everybody’s here and continue the weekly readings in the summer when students go away, essentially to see how much water the student population actually uses,” Jacobsen said.

Cal American Water has also given our campus free aerators and shower heads to help decrease the amount of water wasted in student housing.

“They gave us free water aerators to use for 100 faucets and 50 shower heads, so the other part that I wanted to do is getting several weeks of readings of current use on meters and then go into a hall, probably like Pederson and Thompson, and replace all the aerators and the shower heads and see what kind of effect that has,” Jacobsen said.

Even though shutting off the water can result in less plant-growth, conserving water has become a big concern.

“As Californians, we are so used to seeing a brown scenery, since brown is the new green. It is kind of a bummer that we can’t water our campus grounds as often, but I understand that we have to adapt and accommodate our need to conserve water,” Kristen Acosta, a student employee at the Facilities office, said.

In response to environmental concerns and new regulations, Cal Lutheran is taking on an initiative to bring awareness to water conservation efforts.

“While CLU is certainly responding to those regulations, I like to think that we’re doing it first and foremost because it’s the right thing to do. The community of CLU has an opportunity to be a leader and a model for responsible ecological practices and concerns,” Thomas said.

Sarin Goncuian
Staff Writer
Published February 3rd, 2016