Valley College being water efficient in a State of Emergency

Campus and the rest of California face the driest conditions ever recorded

By Agustin Angel Flores, Staff Writer

Valley College and its sister Los Angeles community colleges are up to date when it comes to water conservation.

Valley was already regulating water consumption before the California drought was proclaimed.

Tom Lopez, Valley director of college facilities, explains that the campus has a smart irrigation system that will water the grass based on the weather data they integrate. They have also changed all urinals on campus to waterless.

As construction and remodeling surrounds the campus, purple pipes are starting to be seen. These are a line that runs sewer-reclaimed water for irrigation purposes only. It will not be used until the utility company brings in a water line five years from now.

Students can see that new landscapes, like the one in between the pool and the South Gym, are being built with the use of drought-resistant plants and new permeable concrete in walkways.

Lopez said the baseball and softball fields are going to be changed from grass to artificial turf, as in Monarch Stadium, saving water and money.

“Right now we are budgeting about $150,000 for water,” Lopez said. “If you can knock-off water consumption by 10 percent, in theory, you can save maybe $14,000 out of the budget.”

On Jan. 17, Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. proclaimed a state of emergency and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for these drought conditions.

The severe drought conditions present urgent challenges: water shortages in communities across the state, diminished water for agricultural production, degraded habitat for many fish and wildlife species, and additional water scarcity if drought conditions continue into 2015.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, more than 80 percent of California is in the highest level, and the state’s condition is not expected to improve in the near future. The last time the state was clear from any signs of a drought was in 2011.

“The prolonged statewide drought means it will be ‘harder to break the cycle,’ much like some thirsty regions in Oklahoma and the entire state of Texas, which have been struggling with drought since 2010,” said climatologist Brian Fuchs of the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska.

On April 25, Gov. Brown issued an executive order to redouble the state’s drought actions. Since then, districts throughout the state have made regulations and water management improvements according to the respective need of water in their region.

Five days later, the LACCD Board of Trustees anonymously approved the adoption of the “Resolution – Water Use and Conservation” where it states: “The district [will] identify and accelerate the implementation of water use and water conservation projects, such as project-specific recycled water implementation…”

Valley is already following the guidelines of this resolution.

The campus Eco Advocates club have another solution that can help reduce the misuse of drinkable water. According to Secretary Jeanette Diaz, the club has discussed that Valley should replace the current water fountains with water bottle filling stations.

“You and the school will be saving water,” Diaz said. “When you use the water fountain, you are essentially wasting water.”

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