The lush green campus of Utah State University attracts people from all over the world, and keeping all that green, green, is no small feat. The fact that Utah is the second driest state in the United States makes things even harder, but USU Facilities is up to the challenge. USU Facilities is making great strides to help reduce the amount of water they use to help meet the water needs of northern Utah.
The diverse landscapes of USU range from the wide-open space of the Quad to tree dotted Old Main Hill, to a permaculture garden, each of which has their own unique water needs. The most water intensive feature of any landscape is usually grass, which needs around two inches of water each week to stay green and healthy. To help save water USU Facilities is using some very high-tech equipment. USU is currently upgrading their sprinkler systems to use “water matching” to ensure the grass gets just enough water. The upgraded system measures and keeps track of the amount of precipitation and uses that data to turn off sprinklers once they have matched the water needs for the grass. Sometimes sprinklers run while it is raining but, it is important to note that with the upgraded system once the amount of the rain plus the water from the sprinklers matches the water needs of the grass the sprinklers will turn off automatically ensuring water is not wasted.
USU is also conserving water through their landscaping choices. Much of the newer landscaping surrounding new campus buildings uses permaculture/water wise designs to help reduce the water needs of those landscapes. One of the key aspects of permaculture/water wise landscaping is the use of native plants. By using native plants in their landscape designs USU has reduced the water needs of some of their landscapes by up to 80 percent. The implementation of permaculture landscaping has other benefits besides conserving water. Another key aspect of permaculture landscaping is the ability for humans to interact with the landscape. One good example of this interaction is the large amount of edible plants, fruits and berries planted around campus, like the strawberry plants around the ARC building.
You might ask, why is conserving water so important? In the next 35 years Utah’s population is projected to increase by 2.5 to 3 million people. It is estimated the average Utahan uses around 160 gallons of water every day, both for indoor and outdoor uses. USU recognizes at that rate there will not be enough water to support an additional 3 million people. Utah State University is committed to do their part to conserve water, to make sure there is enough to meet the needs of Utah’s growing population.