Campus Conservation

BY: VIKANYA CHEA

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Students bustle around campus eating at the food court, refilling their water bottles, and washing their hands in the bathroom. Every action is so transient that almost no one notices how much water they consume on a day-to-day basis. Cal State Long Beach Energy and Sustainability Manager Paul Wingco provided CSULB’s Water Action Plan, dated July 2014, an on-going effort to combat and lessen its footprint on the matter of the drought.

According to the documents, CSULB consumes an average of 25 million cubic feet of water every year. This is enough water to fill nearly 300 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

However, Wingco said it isn’t too late for the student population to take part in the water conservation effort.

“Students can help [by] communicating to other students about the water crisis and … do their part in trying to save water,” Wingco said. “It doesn’t really matter if it’s here, on campus, or in their residences. It all matters.”

The steps toward the water action plan started on January 17, 2014 when Governor Brown “proclaimed a State of Emergency and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for these drought conditions,” according to the Office of Governor website. Brown urges Californians to reduce their water usage by 20 percent.

In response, Interim Executive Vice Chancellor Sally F. Roush issued a memorandum to Cal State campuses on Feb. 4, notifying them to take the State of Emergency as an opportunity to rethink and reduce water use, where possible.

Because the plan was only developed two months ago, Wingco said it’s “too early to tell” if the measures taken or about-to-be-taken will reduce the campus’ water consumption.

“We’re going to take a look at our usage at the end of the fiscal year and see compared to previous years’ usage [to] see where we stand … [W]e’re still shooting for 20 percent,” Wingco said.

Some of the most water-consuming systems on campus include landscape irrigation, domestic water use, swimming pools, and heating and air conditioning via the Central Plant.

Although the bottle-refilling centers scattered around campus do eject water, Wingco said he doesn’t think it affects the goal of reaching 20 percent less consumption. He said it reduces the campus’ reliance on single-use bottles, and it also saves energy and water because the bottles are manufactured in the first place.

Measures such as moving to drought tolerant landscaping, installing touch-free automatic faucets with low flow restrictors, and using weather-based central irrigation controllers have been taken to reduce the campus’ impact.

In order to launch many of these projects, Wingco said that the campus must look at the operation funds, which translates into internal funds. However, because there is an existing partnership with the Long Beach Water Department, Wingco said there are possible external funds as well.

“ … [W]e’re looking to replace close to 200 toilets...we’re also looking to get some incentives from [the] Long Beach Water [Department],” he said. “Approximately 100 dollars per toilet. It’s combining those two to really make it cost-effective.”

Currently there are over 100 practices in the plan, with 80 of them currently being practiced.

Wingco said a 20 percent reduction goal is not something to be trifled with, but the effort to reduce goes a long way.

“Twenty percent, on its own, is pretty aggressive,” he said. “But it doesn’t hurt to try our best because it will only help everywhere else. The drought is not just on our campus; it’s the whole state.”