‘Green Initiative’ combats drought

SDSUs Green Initiative Project helps combat the drought. Photo by Kevin Serrano, Staff Photographer

SDSU’s Green Initiative Project helps combat the drought. Photo by Kevin Serrano, Staff Photographer

by Lawson Navarro

After the driest documented year in California history, Gov. Jerry Brown urged Californians and all public institutions to reduce their water usage by 20 percent.

Although San Diego is south of counties deemed natural disaster areas, San Diego State and the rest of the California State University system have been working to abide by Brown’s call to action.

“I’ve declared this emergency and I’m calling all Californians to conserve water in every way possible,” Brown said in his State of Emergency declaration on Jan. 17.

Along with his request, Brown issued a proclamation for state officials to assist farmers and communities affected by the drought, to implement water reduction policies and to promote public awareness.

“The request of the governor highlights a very serious situation in our state,” SDSU Facilities Services Director John Ferris said. “The Facilities Services department has been working for a long time to conserve water.”

Water conservation efforts in the CSU system began in 2008 with the creation of the Water Resources and Policy Initiatives.

The WRPI utilizes system-wide expertise from CSU faculty, staff and students to work on sustainable water resource management for California, according to Elizabeth Chapin, CSU Public Affairs’ administrative support coordinator. They have partnered with government agencies and major industry water stakeholders to promote reforms in campus policies and facility alterations.

SDSU’s Facilities Services began the Green Initiative Project after the WRPI’s inception in 2008.  The project contained a component dedicated to water conservation and has saved more than $125,000 a year in water consumption through LEED-certified technology, Ferris said.

SDSU recently opening the LEED Platinum-certified Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union, which features several water conservation technologies.  One piece of equipment is a “stormceptor,” which aims to use rainwater, as opposed to piped water, for landscape irrigation.

“The Facilities Services department has been working for a long time to conserve water by installing low flush toilets, aerators on faucets and reducing overspray from irrigation,” Ferris said.

The Aztec Recreation Center has also inserted new slides on its facility TVs that offer gym members tips on how to conserve water.

“When the Green Love program was implemented in campus, the ARC was saving water when we changed our urinals from flush units to no flush urinals,” ARC Building Services Coordinator Ronald Pascual said.

Two months ago the ARC changed to one-quart flush urinals, but Pascual said it’s still a water saver.

SDSU is one of the many CSU campuses to work on water-saving methods.  CSU Channel Islands has reduced water usage by 28 percent in the last two years by irrigating with reclaimed water.

UCLA is the most recent college campus to respond to Brown’s declaration it released a Water Action Plan, listing measures to decrease per capita water consumption by 20 percent from baseline levels by 2020.

While it remains to be seen if SDSU or the CSU system will impose any new policy changes in midst of the drought, The San Diego County Water Authority issued a statement the same day as Brown’s proclamation, saying it has “adequate supplies for 2014.”

Despite this, Ferris said the department is currently investigating nozzle designs to reduce irrigation water, as well as potentially replacing plants in some campus landscapes with drought-tolerant plants.

Photo by Kevin Serrano, staff photographer

The date of Brown’s declaration was actually Jan. 17 not Feb. 17. The Daily Aztec apologizes for this error.