U cuts water use

By By Ana Breton

By Ana Breton

In an effort to keep its lawns green with the least amount of water possible, the U signed a pledge to cut campus water use earlier this month.

Campus grounds managers signed a “Smart Sprinkling” pledge, a water conservation campaign sponsored by the Utah Rivers Council.

As part of the pledge, the U will “fine-tune” watering schedules to save water, said Sue Pope, grounds supervisor at the U. That includes updating the campus irrigation system and installing a modern computer control to make it more effective.

Drought-resistant plants and shrubs will also be planted around campus.

Pope said the U has been pursuing newer and more effective water-conservation measures for the past 10 years and signing the pledge is just part of the process.

“(We want) to make the general public aware that we are making efforts to conserve water,” Pope said. “We’re aware that the state of Utah is in a drought and we need to set the example.”

Although the U is one of the largest water users in the state, it has cut down water use by 15 percent over the last five years, said Mark Danenhauer, river solutions coordinator with the council.

“Taking the commitment to save water is really important,” Danenhauer said. “Especially when 50 percent of Utahns tend to over-water during the summer months.”

With the new irrigation system, sprinklers will now go through a shorter 20-minute cycle to allow grass to saturate and prevent water from running onto streets and sidewalks. This system also automatically shuts down if a water main breaks.

Faulty sprinkler heads will also be replaced.

Even though the first phase of the three-year project will begin this winter, the ongoing effort to fund the plan is far from over.

The $1.2 million that has been raised so far will barely make a dent in the total, Pope said.

In the meantime, Pope wants U students, faculty and staff to help fulfill the water-saving pledge. She asks that anyone who sees a problem on campus with the current system, such as a faulty sprinkler head or water-main break, call the landscape management department at 581-5358 or e-mail her at [email protected]

Interested students can also request a free Smart Sprinkling DVD or sign their own pledge to save water on the Utah River Council’s Web site, www.utahrivers.org.

Lennie Mahler