The UC Berkeley campus uses 605 million gallons of water per year.  Only 8% goes to irrigation and outdoor uses.  Approximately 50% of campus water is used in bathrooms, showers, kitchens and for other “domestic” uses.  Labs take almost 30% of the campus total and our steam plant, which provides heating and hot water to the central campus, uses about 10%.

As a campus, we have already made reductions – water use per person is down over 20% in the last 10 years. The current drought emergency has us redoubling our efforts to look for new and additional ways to save water.  We are also following new restrictions that apply to everyone in the state.

Campus buys its water from the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), which has declared a Stage 4 critical drought and set a community-wide goal to reduce water use 20% compared to 2013. In order to reduce use, these new restrictions will apply to everyone -- individuals, businesses, homeowners associations, schools and other public entities.  Mandatory restrictions on water use, effective April 14, 2015, include:

  • Strict limits on frequency: water no more than two non-consecutive days per week with no runoff.
  • Strict limits on times: water only before 9 am or after 6 pm.   
  • No watering allowed within 48 hours of measurable rainfall.
  • No washing of driveways and sidewalks; except as needed for health and safety.
  • Turn off fountains or decorative water features unless the water is recirculated.   

What we are doing on campus to save water

Irrigation
Lawn Conversions
Fountains
Washdowns
Construction
Playing Fields
Changing habits, reducing individual use (outreach)
Labs
University of California Botanical Garden
People's Park 
Green Roofs
Campus Housing
Cal Dining and Campus Restaurants
Conference Services

Irrigation

Irrigation on the central campus has been reduced to no more than two days per week. Some lawns will be watered no more than one day per week and are expected to go mostly dormant. 

Once lawns are in poor shape, it may take months and over-seeding and other renovation work to bring them back into a healthy stand. All will depend on water availability and campus funding.

Lawn Conversions

A number of campus lawns have been identified for conversion from grass to lower water landscape.  Many lawn conversations have already taken place and implementation of conversion projects continues.  

Some lawn areas have been identified for conversion to mulch area only. Irrigation to these areas will be turned off and mulch placed during the late spring/summer.

Fountains

The campus has five fountains and two decorative pools. Four of the fountains are/will be emptied and maintained to minimize possible damage as they remain without water. The fifth fountain is integral to a teaching exhibit at the Lawrence Hall of Science and will continue to have water in it for safety, while being used to provide information about how drought impacts the Bay Area. The decorative pools are scheduled to be filled with reclaimed water.

Washdowns

Pressure washing sidewalks, stairs, patios, and courtyards is only done as needed for health and safety reasons. When outdoor areas are cleaned, non-potable well water is used.

Construction

Use of water on construction sites is carefully monitored. Opportunities to capture non-potable water for use with dust control are being explored. Water use testing for fire safety and other new building systems is required and is done in cooperation with EBMUD and the campus fire marshal. Minimal new planting will be done at construction of new facilities, where landscape plans have been in place for many months.

Playing Fields

Campus playing fields are shared for use by Intercollegiate Athletics teams and Rec Sports club and intramural teams. Irrigation of grass turf has been reduced to no more than two days per week. Water is applied to artificial turf as needed for safety and cleaning.

Opportunities for conversion of grass to synthetic turf are being considered. These conversions will take into consideration the expected need to replace synthetic turf after 10 years.

Changing habits, reducing individual use (outreach)

Outreach efforts continue across campus. Posters with tips continue to be distributed and are available online (see link above). Partnership between the Office of Sustainability and Energy and the Residence Hall Assembly is an example of a new method of outreach to a targeted campus group (student residents). Inquiries about campus water use are directed to either the Office of Sustainability and Energy or Real Estate Communications to ensure that resources and information about campus reduction efforts is consistent.

Labs

Facilities Services staff has identified a number of water-saving projects for existing labs and is pursuing funding to carry out these infrastructure/system improvements. 

Outreach to lab users about water use is part of the overall campus outreach program.

University of California Botanical Garden

The University of California Botanical Garden has been repairing, replacing and upgrading its irrigation system for the last few years and has recognized significant water saving.

The garden is also a resource for the community on waterwise gardening, providing information and plant details for those interested.
Click here to learn more.

People's Park

Irrigation of lawns at People’s Park has been reduced to no more than one time per week. No new trees will be planted in the park until water restrictions are lifted.

Green Roofs

The campus has a few buildings with green (living) roofs. Water for these has been limited to no more than two days per week.

Campus Housing

Cal Housing has installed 1.5 gallon per minute showerheads in residence halls, and replaced bathroom fixtures in the Channing Bowditch and Ida Jackson halls.  Maximino Martinez Commons is an extremely water-efficient building, and has 1.23 gallons per flush as well as dual flush fixtures.  Housing only irrigates 2 days per week.  A best practice list is being developed on water use and discharges at dining facilities.

Cal Dining and Campus Restaurants

Click here to learn more about Cal Dining's efforts.

Conference Services

Conference Services is working on information about the drought and water conservation for summer guests that will be included in welcome packets. As they use campus residence halls for summer short and long-term housing any signs already posted will still be in place.

EBMUD guidelines:

Mandatory restrictions on water use, effective April 14, 2015, include:

  • Strict limits on frequency: water no more than two non-consecutive days per week with no runoff.
  • Strict limits on times: water only before 9 am or after 6 pm.   
  • No watering allowed within 48 hours of measurable rainfall.
  • No watering of ornamental turf on public street medians allowed.
  • No washing of driveways and sidewalks; except as needed for health and safety.
  • Use only hoses with shutoff nozzles to wash vehicles.
  • Turn off fountains or decorative water features unless the water is recirculated.   
  • Use of hydrant water outside the EBMUD service area is prohibited.

Related Links:

REPORT A LEAK

Report leaky faucets or misdirected sprinkler heads – on campus, call Facilities Services at (510) 642-1032.

Tips for saving water

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