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Water Efforts

Grounds has replaced tens of thousands of square-feet of turf with mulch, utilizing underused spaces such as boulevards.

The College has been systematically retrofitting and replacing conventional toilets with dual-flush fixtures, such as this one in Norton-Clark III residence hall.

Current Programs

Water Use

  • Drought Action Plan Facilities and the SIO responded to the drought in 2013-14 by developing a Drought Action Plan with water-conservation measures. In addition to reducing irrigation to landscaped areas by at least 20%, not washing down outside walkways, and watering only at night, water-conserving low-flow faucets, showerheads, and dual-flush toilets were installed in high-use areas. An outreach campaign included reminders during staff meetings and increased signage around campus.
  • pH Controllers In mid-March 2014, new pH controllers were installed on ten cooling towers around campus. This water-conserving technology is predicted to save 2 millions gallons per year, or around 2% of annual consumption, helping move towards the Sustainability Action Plan goal of a 5% annual reduction by 2020.


  • Ralph Cornell Society of Native Landscapers This student club seeks to promote drought-resistant and native Southern California plants around campus, replacing water-thirsty landscaping with native plants.
  • Turf removal Grounds continues to identify areas around campus where turf can be removed and replaced with drought-tolerant landscaping.
  • Drought-tolerant plantings The College's Grounds Department has been systematically increasing the variety and extent of drought-tolerant landscaping choices on campus, including reduced water-using grass blends for turf.
  • Appropriate landscaping design Grounds strategically designs landscaping on campus to place plants that need more water in naturally wetter areas of campus and plants that need less water in drier areas.
  • Advanced irrigation equipment The College's irrigation system includes a variety of measures to ensure that landscaping is irrigated appropriately, including daily-updated weather data from the campus' weather system that controls irrigation systems based on predictions of humidity and precipitation, efficient Rainbird irrigation equipment, and a rain gauge shut-off that shuts down the system when more than 0.5" of rain is detected.
  • Drip irrigation systems Drip irrigation has been systematically installed where appropriate, reducing the use of spray and other sprinkler types on campus. In Summer 2009, Grounds replaced 5,148 sq-ft of spray irrigation with drip irrigation.
  • Reduced watering schedules Since 2004, the College has significantly reduced the watering schedule for campus landscaping, down to a base for two times per week (aside from athletic turf, which must be watered daily due to different maintenance requirements). Watering occurs more than twice a week when weather or other conditions require it.
  • Pressure regulation As described in the water section of the audit, high water pressure causes leaks and inaccurate sprinkler aiming, which increases the College's water use. Grounds is systematically installing pressure regulators on irrigation equipment in order to reduce water use. Currently, 30-40% of the system is pressure-regulated.


  • Water brooms Use of water brooms for cleaning exterior areas (saves up to 75% water over traditional hoses).

Plumbing Fixtures

  • Efficient toilets Currently, almost all toilets on campus are 1.6-gallon, which is the EPA standard for water-efficient fixtures. Over 150 toilets on campus are dual-flush technology.
  • Faucet aerators Maintenance installs 0.5 gpm aerators on all faucets, ensuring efficiency.
  • Efficient front-loading washing machines Almost all washing machines on campus (including Housekeeping's) are water-efficient front-loading machines.

Stormwater management


  • Mirror films The College has produced hundreds of "Use Water Wisely" mirror films and put them in bathrooms across campus.
  • Little Green Book The Little Green Book sustainable living guide provides students with a variety of valuable tips on reducing their environmental impacts, including their water use.