Public Affairs

Saving Water for Tomorrow’s Future

March 13, 2012
By Stephanie Thara

Saving Water for Tomorrow's FutureDid you know that 25 percent of the water that goes into growing food is wasted? Or that it takes 37 gallons of water to make a cup of coffee, 634 gallons of water to make a hamburger and 1,800 gallons of water to make a pair of jeans? Or that one day of electricity at home uses about five gallons of water? There is an incredible amount of hidden water used to produce the food we eat and the items we consume. Consequently, about 2.7 billion people are affected by global water shortages each year.

Water is a scarce resource, and the CSU system and its campuses have been implementing measures to conserve water and reduce consumption. The CSU’s Water Resources and Policy Initiatives address the complex water issues facing California—primarily focusing on sustainable water resource management. The goals of the initiatives include: partnerships with the water industry and government agencies; education, training and professional capacity building; and technology and economic development.

At the campus level, several programs aimed at water conservation have been developed, including:

To protect streams, biological habitats and archaeologically significant areas, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo has developed a Water Quality Management Plan and a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Program.

San Francisco State’s rainwater harvesting system collects 12,000 gallons of rainwater each year, which reduces stormwater runoff and lessons the burden on sewer systems.

CSU Channel Islands uses waterless urinals in the men’s restrooms, saving up to 40,000 gallons of water, per urinal, annually.

Fresno State soil scientist Florence Cassel Sharma (center) and student technicians set up irrigation system for research. Fresno State’s smart irrigation controllers adjust irrigation applications based on weather and soil conditions, thus minimizing excess usage.

Cal State Long Beach installed touch free faucets in restrooms to improve hygiene and eliminate water waste.

Cal State Dominguez Hills’ university housing has reduced water use by 50 percent by installing over 225 dual-flush, low-flow toilets and more than 150 low-flow showerheads.

Wood chips are used at CSU East Bay to control weeds and increase water retention. Wood chip mulch reduces the need for weed control chemicals and frequent irrigation.

Using a wireless water management service (which adjusts to weather changes and turns off water before it rains), Cal State L.A. was able to lower their water bills and reduce water usage by about 27 million gallons in 18 months.