Biola Responds to California Drought with Conservation Tactics

University continues water conservation efforts in preparation for possible 35-year ‘megadrought’

Oct. 24, 2014 By Brieana Jordan

Biola University has conserved 9.6 percent of water across campus in the 2013-14 school year through various measures to help save water during the present drought in California.

While nearly 82 percent of the state has suffered severe drought since 2011, there is a 20 to 50 percent chance that California — and parts of the Southwest including Arizona and New Mexico — could experience a 35-year “megadrought,” according the U.S. Geological Survey.

“I think it is quite possible that water utility companies would ask customers to use 10 to 20 percent less water than the metered value from the prior year,” said Brian Phillips, senior director of operations for facilities management.

Biola has increased its use of drought tolerant plants across campus, specifically the landscaping at the Talbot East building, the Jesus Mural, and Horton Hall, in order to conserve water.  Facilities Management plans to turn small areas that are covered in grass and plants around campus into a drought tolerant landscape that will require less water and maintenance.

In addition, the grounds department installed several water conservation tools on campus such as the Hunter Pro-Spray sprinklers that release half the amount of water as the previous brass sprinkler heads did, a zero bleed system, and various fixtures around campus like low flow sinks and toilets. The zero bleed system saves nearly 3 million gallons of water per year at the school’s Central Plant Cooling Tower.

“The zero bleed system consists of a large water softener that prevents hard water from building up in the cooling tower basins,” said Phillips.

In the past, when sediment hardened to a certain level, large amounts of water were dumped out of the basin to reduce the hardness.

“With the soft water system, the water does not need to be dumped, so water is conserved,” said Phillips.

Due to the drought in the past three years, Biola’s water usage has fluctuated from approximately 143 million gallons in the 2011-12 year to 160 million gallons in the 2012-13 year, and back to 144 million gallons in the 2013-14 year.

The time of day in which plants are watered is a critical element in water conservation, according to Randy Tadewosian, a grounds foreman.

“That’s why we water early in the morning. Most clocks start after midnight, everybody is gone, you have the best pressure so it’s going to be accurate,” said Tadewosian.

Biola will continue its efforts to conserve water across campus including a course of action in construction projects. For example, the new dorm under construction, North Residence Hall, will have an overall 20 percent water savings through the selected toilets, urinals, sinks, and shower heads installed.

Written by Brieana Jordan, iBiola Reporter. For more information, contact Jenna Bartlo, media relations specialist at (562) 777-4061 or jenna.l.bartlo@biola.edu.

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