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How One Campus is Beating the Drought

By Sharon Chen
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It’s no news that California is experiencing a historic drought – but now the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) is making news for its water conservation. The university has cut its water use by twenty-seven percent, exceeding the state’s Stage 3 Water Emergency water reduction goal of 25%. To achieve this level of conservation, UCSC has reduced irrigation, encouraged behavior modification, installed low-flow toilets and showerheads. The university has also invested in cellular broadcasters that allow water usage to be tracked by the hour, alerting managers to potential leaks that can be quickly fixed.

For its efforts, the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) has recognized UCSC as a top performer in conserving and protecting water in its 2015 Sustainable Campus Index. (To see other top-performing universities and colleges in AASHE’s index, please visit:

UCSC, and the other campuses that made it onto AASHE’s index, are outstanding examples of how higher education continues to work hard to improve sustainability. Higher education is responsible for teaching future generations, influences policy and discourse, and often drives climate change research and solutions. To see so many schools leading the way on sustainability is inspiring. To find out more about how you can lead by example and engage on climate solutions, join us on the Path to Positive.

Campus exceeds goal for water savings, seeks to do more

Scott Hernandez-Jason | University of California, Santa Cruz Newscenter | October 19, 2015

Like cities across California, UC Santa Cruz has been working hard to further reduce its water usage in the midst of the state's historic drought.

In the past fiscal year, the campus cut water use by 27 percent, exceeding the city's Stage 3 Water Emergency reduction goal of 25 percent, and water managers continue to look for ways to save even more.

The campus and its efforts were recognized as a top performer in conserving water and protecting water quality by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education and is featured in its 2015 Sustainable Campus Index.

The success is the result of hard work from people across campus who stepped up to help lower campus consumption in a variety of ways - reducing irrigation, encouraging behavior modification, sharing more information with users, and installing low-flow faucets, toilets, and pumps.

"Conserving water on campus is everyone's job," said Elida Erickson, interim director of sustainability. "In addition to reducing usage, the campus is looking at ways to harvest and reuse water."

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