With no end in sight to California’s historic drought, municipalities across the state are scrambling to meet stringent new government restrictions on water usage. Cal Poly Pomona has long been committed to efficiency and conservation, and is launching several additional water conservation measures to augment is existing sustainability efforts.
Earlier this month, Gov. Jerry Brown announced mandatory statewide water-use reductions, a first in California’s history. Cities are being ordered to curb their water usage by 25 percent. Cal Poly Pomona officials are aiming to meet that target.
For decades, the university has been making strides to reduce its usage when it comes to water. The university relies primarily on reclaimed water for irrigating its landscaping and agriculture operations. Overall, more than three-quarters of the water used on campus comes from reclaimed sources.
“The governor’s edict is to reduce potable water, which is different than the reclaimed water we irrigate with,” says Mark Miller, director of Facilities Management.
There is still room to improve in that area. Miller says. Officials are targeting the few places on campus where potable water is used for irrigation, and converting the land to use reclaimed water.
Miller says Facilities Management is also examining how the campus is landscaped and how improvements might be made there.
“We’re identifying areas of the landscape that can be removed and replaced with drought-tolerant plants or mulch,” he says.
Other major initiatives include:
- Converting the central plant, which uses water for chilling purposes, to reclaimed supplies. Miller expects this would save 1.1 million gallons of drinkable water each year.
- Commissioning the new water treatment and pumping plant, which draws water from the local aquifer. When completed, the plant will allow Cal Poly Pomona to get all of its potable water from the local aquifer, rather than relying on water imported from elsewhere in the state.
- Restroom renovations that will replace fixtures with low-flow versions. Newer urinals use as little as a fraction of a pint of water per flush
- Improving the efficiencies of irrigation in agricultural operations
On-campus residents are also being asked to lend a hand in the effort.
“People need to be involved and take shorter showers,” Miller says. “Flush toilets only when it’s necessary.”
Despite those efforts, the university will still need to water its lawns and crops. Miller would like the campus community to be aware that the use of sprinklers is being reduced.
“We are dialing back our watering 25 percent, but it’s a big campus, so people will still see sprinklers in operation,” he says.