Power Washing

BY: JONATHAN ANDRINO-VELA

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As of last January, 2014, governor Jerry Brown declared a drought state of emergency. However, California State University board of trustees’ statement on energy conservation, sustainable building practices, and physical plant measurement policy, has been effective since 2006; restricting the abundance of energy and water usage.

Mike Montoya, a Groundskeeper for Grounds and Landscaping at California State University of Long Beach said, “We need to be educated and it has to be a team effort between staff and students”

Long Beach State campus maintenance has grown accustomed to power washing campus-wide, using a 230 gallon pressure washer—a significant upgrade from a water hose and which, averages a fill up every four hours of usage. Or, the use of a rechargeable chord that allows up to 200 feet giving the groundskeeper use in desolate areas without a water source nearby, while automatically refilling as it empties out.

California state power washing regulations allow sprays of roughly three gallons per minute, but the Hotsy 3,500-230-gallon tank, sprays at 5.2 gallons per minute.

Manager of Grounds and Landscaping, Brian McKinnon, declares power washing to be

“The aesthetic of our campus goes a long way. The importance of power washing is maintaining campus clean for all students, faculty and staff—health and safety standpoint is number one,” said McKinnon.

Groundskeepers and field managers alike, however, all declared that some areas don’t need the same power washing frequencies. Dually noting that certain areas are prone to slippage, making it hazardous and a primary.

Paul Wingco, Energy and Sustainability Manager, explains how washes get done in the tedious of locations on campus, but “often times, berries from trees can cause slippage, or stain walkways, and that needs to be washed for obvious reasons".

A common sight is power washing in what seems to be unnecessary of locations, wasting water. Often times, the vending machines will be washed according to dirtiness. Wingco said, “It shouldn’t be a primary, but no other tool can reach underneath.”

Regardless, McKinnon declared pressure washing “the farthest from campus concern for the largest concern for campus’s abundance of water usage is due to the irregularity of our irrigation system. Half of campus is split between potable and reclaimed water; potable being fresh and reclaimed being re-filtered.

Lower campus’s irrigation consists of reclaimed water, specifically. While upper campus CSU executive order enforces promoting the use of reclaimed water. Although, upper campus student activity is minimal in lower campus.

Facilities and Management will begin a new landscaping project mid-Spring replacing turf out of irrigation and planting drought tolerant landscape. Alongside the hopes of bringing reclaimed water irrigation to upper campus in the near future.

Though, the city cannot do so immediately, meaning, solely, that campus’ budget is insufficient for the project. Wingco explained that reclaimed water is a more sustainable source and cost efficient.

LBSU will be doing a feasibility study—to determine the cost—for a campus wide audit on building usage and irrigation control, said McKinnon. An independent company will study on campus water usage and suggest projects to conserve water concentrating effort in efficiency of irrigation system through monitoring.

It’ll be a huge benefit and revolutionary, far beyond campus, because the controls of the proposed irrigation system will monitor current weather conditions and will adjust accordingly. McKinnon explains that Facilities is always in search for improving efficiency,

Mckinnon says, “We work on ways to reduce pressure washing in non-essential areas by utilization of new equipment and techniques, such as our captor and sweeper scrubber we just got,” said McKinnon. It’s purposed for sweeping and spraying sidewalks and re-utilizing the same water for each spray, until replenished when too dirty.

Ultimately, LBSU is working on many ways to improve water consumption. Although, there are areas that can improve; but the fluctuation in weather makes regulating tough. Mike Montoya says, “It’s a complex situation”.