Campus asked to reduce water consumption

Despite this weekend's rain showers, drought conditions persist in California, and SF State is asking students, faculty and staff to cut back on their water usage.

Prolonged below-average rainfall -- 2013 was California's driest year on record -- has depleted the state's water supplies and led Governor Jerry Brown to declare a drought emergency. In making the declaration, Brown asked Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent.

Photo of a bioswale between the Science an HSS buildings.

Bioswales outside the Business building capture rainwater and use it for nearby plants. The bioswales are part of a number of sustainability initiatives that have helped SF State reduce its water usage by roughly a third since 2007.

SF State is committed to doing its part to conserve water, said Sustainability Coordinator Nick Kordesch, and that conservation can come through a variety of methods. When washing their hands, students, faculty and staff can turn off the faucet while lathering. Students living in the residence halls can take shorter showers and turn off the water while shaving or brushing their teeth. And all members of the SF State community are encouraged to report leaky faucets or pipes to a building coordinator or resident assistant.

"Everything starts with individual actions," Kordesch said. "If we're going to get to 20 percent water reduction as a state, all of these conservation activities that people do on their own can make a difference."

As part of its ongoing commitment to sustainability, SF State has undertaken a number of initiatives in recent years to reduce the campus' water use. These include replacing lawns with natural grasses that require less watering; installing low-flow faucets, showers and toilets; and creating landscapes that reuse water, such as bioswales that collect rainwater and use it for surrounding plants.

In addition, said Senior Director of Facilities and Services Enterprises Chuck Meyer, the campus has begun installing modern irrigation controls and worked to fix leaks in underground pipes, and is investigating ways to reuse waste water from the campus fuel cell plant.

Altogether, the University reduced its annual water consumption by roughly a third since 2007.

"Some of the things we've already done are going to pay off during the drought," Kordesch said, adding that SF State's environmentally friendly mindset is an advantage during such conditions. "If each of our 30,000 students can make some adjustments to their water use, SF State can make a big difference collectively."

In addition to reducing their own water use, Kordesch is encouraging all students, faculty and staff to spread the word among their friends and colleagues about the drought and reducing water use.

For more about sustainability efforts at SF State, visit Sustainable SF State's Facebook page.

-- Jonathan Morales