Water conservation on campus

Posted: February 27, 2014

To the Scripps College Community:

While any amount of rain is needed, this week’s projected rainfall will be insufficient to make any real dent in California’s drought situation. So I’m taking this opportunity to reach out to you about the ongoing importance of conservation and sustainability and to encourage you to attend the free, public symposium “Water Scarcity & Solutions: Global to Local” that takes place this Saturday, March 1 in Garrison Theater, 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. For more information, visit: http://www.taipdconference.com/

It is gratifying to know that many members of our campus community are devoting time and effort to this critical issue, which affects all of us on campus and throughout Southern California. Thank you to the members of the President’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability for your efforts and advocacy. Thank you also to all who are actively participating, have become more cognizant of the issue, and are taking steps to monitor personal water usage. I ask for your continued recognition of this issue and your contributions, particularly in the following ways:

  • Please report any irrigation leaks to grounds@scrippscollege.edu
  • Please report any running water or toilet leaks within the buildings to maintenance@scrippscollege.edu
  • Help us brainstorm – any ideas you have for water conservation are welcome. While I can’t promise that the College can adopt all the ideas, I definitely can look to the collective thinking of this wonderful community and see where that takes us. Send your ideas to grounds@scrippscollege.edu
  • Tweeting has been useful in reporting problems, which have been handled immediately by the grounds crew.

Much in life requires balance, and how Scripps mitigates water conservation on our campus grounds is no exception. As we make decisions about, for example, removing lawns, we must balance that with the heritage of the beauty of this campus. We are fortunate that our grounds crew considers this balance as they look for ways to conserve and preserve.

I asked Lola Trafecanty, director of grounds, to share with me some of the most significant efforts Scripps has made in the area of water conservation in the recent past and the current activity on campus. She reports:

  • Scripps installed a central irrigation system in the early 1990s, which helps schedule watering times based on evapotranspiration rates and types of plant materials.
  • The College has removed lawns in areas between GJW and Kimberly/Wilbur to the square between the Senior Routt Apartments and Amherst Avenue. Lawn was minimized at the diagonal entrance at 9th and Columbia. Grass was removed under the large Carob tree at Jaqua Quad west and in the corner adjacent to it.
  • We removed some irrigation and added a softscape in the Revelle Gardens to accommodate College events.
  • The Athletic Field is never over-seeded during the winter months when the Bermuda grass goes dormant. This saves water versus the common practice of over-seeding.
  • Vita Nova Court was designed with drip systems only.
  • Bowling Green hedges and Chandler Walk citrus trees were revised to drip systems.
  • The Student Garden was once lawn and was replaced with planting beds and orchard trees. A mulching practice is used in planting beds to maintain moisture in the ground versus absorption during the hot months of the year.
  • Lawns are mowed on a biweekly basis. This allows for deeper root growth, which minimizes the need for more frequent watering.
  • Sand-based flagstone and/or brick are used throughout the campus to allow for rainwater to percolate and recharge the groundwater.
  • Funding is in place for irrigation upgrades, which will get underway this summer.
  • Proposals for areas of lawn removal have been developed, which will not impact the historic integrity of the campus. These include Platt Boulevard, Steele Hall west lawn, the lawn between Kimberly/Wilbur, and the Margaret Fowler Garden bicycle shed. These proposals will be vetted through the appropriate committees for funding and approval.

Finally, I applaud the work of our wonderful grounds crew, the Water Task Force, the SAS Environmental Committee, and the President’s Advisory Council on Sustainability, as well as all those who join them in making a difference and helping us conserve water through our daily operations.


Lori Bettison-Varga

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