Every Drop Counts

August 2, 2015

As the West, and especially California, faces its 4th year of drought, conservation plays a vital part of surviving the historically low rain fall and snow pack. UC President Janet Napolitano requested all campuses to reduce potable water consumption 20% by 2020. Governor Jerry Brown has mandated a 25% reduction for urban water users starting in June compared to 2013. All of these are unprecedented actions, and UCSB and Housing & Residential Services are incorporating even more water conservation measures.  

For comparison purposes, the following graph shows that water use in the residence halls and dining commons is very low per person, especially compared to other residential users. Water conservation and efficiency measures in the halls include low flow shower heads, low flow aerators on the faucets, dual flush toilets, and waterless urinals. The dining commons incorporate these strategies and also have low water use dish machines, low flow sprayers, elimination of disposals, and the elimination of trays which reduces cleaning needs and waste.   
H&RS also uses shower timers to remind residents to take a 5-minute shower. Another factor that accounts for low potable water (fresh water) use is all irrigation around the halls utilizes recycled water.

As the drought continues, UCSB and H&RS are not done trying to save water. Currently 90% of campus utilizes recycled water. We will continue to expand recycled water use for irrigation at locations around campus such as around San Rafael Hall and at Sierra Madre Apartments. New cutting edge use of recycled water will also be at San Joaquin Apartments. Toilets in all the new towers will use recycled water instead of fresh water. All these measures mean that even if the rain comes we will continue to save fresh water for its best uses in the years to come.    

Another theme throughout these efforts is education. UCSB and H&RS are constantly working to inform residents, staff and visitors about our water savings efforts, and how they can help save water too. This is accomplished with signage, water savings contests, DigiKnow, stickers, and partnering with campus groups, departments and students to help save water.

Here are some conservation tips you can do to save water and websites with many more ideas:

  1. Reduce outdoor watering. Remove turf or let it turn gold. After all, gold is the new green :-).
  2. Use low flow faucet aerators.
  3. Put in a low flow shower head, and take a 5-minute shower.
  4. Turn on the dish washer only when its full, same with the laundry machine.
  5. If you have an old dishwasher or washing machine, new machines are much more efficient and work better.
  6. Replace old toilets with new low flow models.
  7. Look for the “WaterWise” logo for new appliances/toilets to get the best low flow models available.
  8. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth.
  9. Use car washes that recycle the water.
  10. Capture your shower water to water plants or use in toilets.

For more ideas, visit:

Together we can make a difference!

By Mark Rousseau