Recycled water use to extend to more campus resources, including on-campus laboratories
UC Santa Barbara plans to reduce potable water use by 12 percent by March 2016 by further utilizing water recycling technology on campus.
This goal follows a UC-wide mandate for campuses to reduce water use by 20 percent by 2020 and matches the Goleta Water District’s water conservation goal. UCSB worked with the Goleta Water District to modify and expand its permit for the use of recycled water.
Ninety percent of campus is already irrigated with recycled water, and recycled water accounts for 25 percent of its total annual water use.
Recycling and Water Efficiency Manager Matthew O’Carroll said the university plans to achieve this goal through large-scale changes to campus buildings and operations.
“UCSB seeks to achieve the 12 percent reduction in potable water use through continuing to optimize efficiency in industrial applications and laboratory processes and in on-campus residences and academic buildings,” O’Carroll said.
UCSB has already taken steps to conserve water through recycling technologies, according to O’Carroll.
“UCSB has a long history of effective water conservation and efficiency efforts,” O’Carroll said. “The one effort that stands out in particular is the use of recycled water.”
According to O’Carroll, the 12 percent reduction will save more than 19 million gallons of water.
Environmental Affairs Board (EAB) Co-chair and third-year computer science major Nicholas Frey said he applauds the university’s efforts to conserve water.
“UCSB has a lot going on already concerning potable water conservation,” Frey said. “Our per capita water usage is something like 22 gallons per day which is quite a contrast to the average of 60 in our local water district.”
According to O’Carroll, UCSB Sustainability’s LabR.A.T.S. (Laboratory Resources, Advocates, and Teamwork for Sustainability) program plans to reduce water consumption in UCSB labs by replacing single-pass cooling systems with closed-looped systems.
“As of now, LabR.A.T.S. has helped to secure funding for approximately 85 closed-loop systems,” O’Carroll said. “They have the potential to reduce UCSB’s potable water consumption by three percent.”
Frey said LabR.A.T.S.’s efforts could make a significant impact in helping UCSB reach its water conservation goal.
“If the 700 to 800 single-pass cooling systems are replaced, an estimated 120 million gallons of water will be saved per year,” Frey said.
EAB Co-chair and third-year environmental studies major Chris Berry said the Goleta Water District sources water locally, making it especially important for UCSB’s campus and individual students to reduce water use.
“Goleta is unique in that most of the potable water we have access to at UCSB is directly from the area, such as Lake Cachuma as opposed to state water from the California Aqueduct,” Berry said. “With the drought only getting worse, the Goleta Valley Water District is going to start pumping ground water, which I think only serves to highlight the need for students to be as water wise as possible.
O’Carroll said UCSB students, faculty and staff can help UCSB reach its conservation goal by reducing personal water use on campus.
“To achieve this significant reduction in a short timeframe, we need the continued help of our campus community,” O’Carroll said. “As a community, we not only need to continue these efforts, but take them to the next level and really be conscious and aware of our water consumption, always striving to be efficient and eliminate any waste.”
A version of this story appeared on page 6 of Thursday, July 30, 2015’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Goleta is not “unique” in having local water sources. All the water used in Santa Cruz (including by UCSC) falls as rain in Santa Cruz County.