Thursday, March 26, 2015

California's Exceptional Drought: "A Year in Water"

Story contributed by UC Santa Cruz Financial Affairs Department 

Even with the recent rains, California’s drought is so severe that a new category had to be created to describe it: "Exceptional Drought," which is ranked as more dry than "Extreme Drought" and "Severe Drought." In response to this water crisis, the Financial Affairs Green Team is putting forth a year long effort known as "A Year In Water," with a series of events focusing on highlighting conservation efforts, water recycling opportunities, and spreading information about local water sources.

In January, the Green Team challenged Financial Affairs departments to commit to conserving water by taking the Water Conservation Coalition of Santa Cruz County's Water Pledge. Many Financial Affairs staff members rose to the challenge, with 60% of staff participating in the event.

On March 25th, the Financial Affairs Green Team visited the Bay Street Reservoir. This reservoir was demolished in 2006 due to a crumbling roof, but in 2014 two six million gallon replacement tanks were put back into operation to help meet the needs of the city's 90,000 customers. Bay Street tanks are considered a critical emergency supply because they hold treated water, unlike the raw rainwater in the Loch Lomond Reservoir.

The Green Team photographed the site and discussed water issues with the plant's water staff. Armed with this information, they will make a presentation to Financial Affairs to help everyone better understand what can be done to conserve Santa Cruz's precious water supply. April 14th from 12:00pm to 1:00pm at 2300 Delaware in room B290, Elida Erickson from the Sustainability Office will be presenting an overview of how the campus coordinated a response to the drought crisis, achieving its 24% reduction target from the City and communicating water saving initiatives to the users in the campus community.

In May, at the Financial Affairs All Hands Meeting Dr. Brent Haddad will speak about his research, which focuses on Integrated Water Management, Regional Water Management, Water and Energy Policy, Political Economy and Renewable Energy. Dr. Haddad has been at the forefront in educating the public about desalination. The Green Team is also in the process of getting each Financial Affairs department re-certified through the Sustainability Office's Green Office Certification program. Due to their improved sustainability efforts, FAR was promoted from "sprout" to "sapling." Way to go!

The Financial Affairs Green Team looks forward to continued efforts in environmental leadership, collaboration, and education.

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