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UCSB Takes Strides To Conserve Water On Campus

Published On: Apr 21 2014 05:55:13 PM CDT   Updated On: Apr 22 2014 03:18:13 PM CDT

UCSB Takes Strides To Conserve Water On Campus

UC SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

UC Santa Barbara is doing its part to try to conserve water during the drought and the campus plans to continue the effort long after the rain clouds come back.

"At UCSB, if you look at the entire Santa Barbara area, we are like the 800 pound gorilla that lives here," said Matt O'Carroll with a laugh.

O'Carroll is the water efficiency manager on campus. He's a recent graduate who's thesis at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, was to create a UCSB water action plan. He and other students looked into water conservation for the university.

The school has 430 acres of lawn and open space and around 26,000 students and faculty on campus at any given time. Add it up and UCSB uses a lot of water.

"Water is the hot topic right now. The area is facing a drought, a water shortage of all our potable water sources," said O'Carroll.

The with O'Carroll at the helm, the campus is trying to be lean, starting with reducing their share of potable water while increasing the amount of recycled water outside.

"Irrigating 90 percent of our landscape (with recycled water) conserves about 19.5 million gallons of water a year," he said.

New signs on campus near the lawns, are causing some students to take notice.

"A lot of people are not aware of the drought and how bad it is because you still see water in your taps. I think it's nice that there's so much being done, that there's so much being talked about," said Kavitha Nambier, a UCSB graduate student.

The recycled water isn't just used on the grass, some bathrooms use it in combination with low-flow toilets.

Two new residents halls will also have water conscious commodes that will be built right in to the new buildings.

"One of the constraining factors is the infrastructure. We need to plumb these restrooms with recycled water pipes," said O'Carroll.

By the next school year, 5,000 faucet aerators will be installed on sinks across campus to reduce the amount of water that comes out.

"That will save us about 2.9 million gallons annually," he said.

With the ongoing efforts, the water efficiency manager hopes the campus will become a model for surrounding cities.

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