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Friday, October 31, 2014

November 2014 Drought Update

During the spring, mandatory water restrictions of 25% were put into place by the City of Santa Cruz to reduce water use during this "exceptional" drought, and UC Santa Cruz has been successful at staying within these reductions since late spring. To achieve this goal, the Water Working Group requested the creation of a student-led team through the Sustainability Office, focused specifically on drought response. Thus, the Drought Response Team was born, comprised of five students: Nataly Dybens, Lindsay Edelman, Marino Hernandez, Elly Martinez, and McCall Williams.

This summer, this student team took on the projects of auditing water fixtures, educating the campus through signage, and learning about water in our county. Through their efforts and the water conservation actions of our entire campus community, we have stayed within our water restriction amounts. Congratulations—and keep it up! Throughout the summer and into the fall, the Drought Response Team has inspected 64 buildings’ water fixtures by assessing how much water was being used by sinks, showers, and toilets. Comparing these numbers with expected flow rates, the team members identify inefficient fixtures and have been passing along requests for them to be fixed or upgraded. So far 91 leaks have been repaired, and there are still 40 more buildings to be audited by the team. These simple changes in our infrastructure can save a lot of water.   

In addition to auditing, the team has put up signage in nearly all restrooms on campus with information about how to report leaks, knowing that water conservation is a team effort across campus requiring support from everyone. Perhaps you’ve seen the signs: “Help Out, We’re in a Drought!” The team has also been tabling at events throughout campus to educate our community about water use and sources of water in our county. Most of our water comes from Loch Lomond Reservoir and the San Lorenzo River, which are dependent upon local rain. 

The Drought Response Team has been tabling at events throughout campus to educate, engage, and encourage water conservation.

Despite our achievements in water reductions, the drought continues and some parts of campus are suffering from the limited amounts of water that can be used. For example, East Field wasn’t watered enough early in the summer to keep it alive, and it has had to be re-seeded and left to grow back, affecting sports clubs and teams and others who use the field. The UCSC Farm is also facing challenges in keeping enough of their fields growing to continue all of their important programs and research. Water conservation is still extremely important, and each day we are more and more in need of rain. If you’d like to know more about what the City and community leaders are doing to identify solutions to our water supply, please read this article about the recent water convention and cast your vote

These efforts by the Drought Response Team are just some of the many efforts taking place at UCSC to reduce water use, and we will continue to provide updates as the drought continues. It is important to inform your friends, family members, peers, and neighbors about the drought and what we all can do to conserve water. Take this water footprint quiz to learn how you can save more water and encourage others to do the same. If you see a leak or water waste on campus, please report it by filling out a work order online at If you notice a leak in the residential halls, please report it via a Fixit ticket at

Questions? Proposed solutions? Concerns? Please contact Elida Erickson at ekericks [at] ucsc [dot] edu.

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