Tuesday, April 21, 2015

UC Santa Cruz Accepts the Challenge of Governor Brown's Mandatory Water Restrictions With New Metering System

California’s First Ever Mandatory Water Restrictions

On the first of April, Governor Jerry Brown took an unprecedented step and announced the first ever statewide mandatory water restrictions alongside a series of other conservation measures. California is currently experiencing its fourth year of a drought with the most recent winter months experiencing the lowest snowpack in recorded history.  As the dry summer months are approaching, it is critical that California water users conserve and use water wisely.

Drought by Richard Vogel.jpg
Richard Vogel/AP

To address the need to conserve, Brown’s executive order requires a 25% reduction in water use by towns and cities, new pricing structures by local water agencies to encourage conservation, the replacement of 50 million square feet of lawns through a rebate program, rebates for water-efficient appliances, and new reporting guidelines for agricultural water users.
What does this mean for UCSC?

With all of these policies and measures that have just been created to lower our water usage, what does this mean for UC Santa Cruz? Fortunately, UC Santa Cruz has been adjusting its water usage through implementing the city of Santa Cruz’s 25% water reduction measure. UC Santa Cruz has addressed water conservation on multifaceted levels including cutting back irrigation 40-60%, installing recycled water autoclaves in labs, retrofitting old water fixtures, as well as having student-led teams conduct water audits of university buildings and educate the community about our current water situation. These changes were not easy, however the university was able to meet this goal for 2014.

                                                                  Dan Coyro/Santa Cruz Sentinel

In order to continue this goal on a more long term scale, UC Santa Cruz has a new project to dig deeper into water conservation by addressing a bigger, more abstract issue that deals with how we obtain information about our water usage. In the past, the University has had a team of individuals monitor and check 400+ meters once a month to calculate its usage. However there are limitation with this method due to monthly and human error in analyzing data . As stated by Patrick Testoni, the campus energy manager, “you can’t manage, what you can’t measure”. UC Santa Cruz hopes to improve this limitation through the installment of a new water metering system. The benefit of these new meters is that they alert users through live data about water usage and leaks by the hour, which can bring faster responses to problems and provide better information to water users. By summertime, UC Santa Cruz will have 400 meters installed and a team of individuals trained and ready to meet this new long term challenge of water conservation.

Interested in what you can do to save water?

Does your home or a family’s home have a lawn that could benefit from being converted to a more drought tolerant landscape?  Click here to find out if you are eligible for the turf rebate program and here to estimate your rebate total. Rebates start at $2 per square foot of turf removal and certain local water agencies are providing supplementary rebates as well.  These products are also applicable for rebates.

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