Detailed campus water use study begins this week

Beginning this week, teams of students will begin counting plumbing fixtures across campus as part of a detailed study of water use.

The students, working in pairs, will venture into buildings to survey existing fixtures. They will count toilets, faucets, showers, dishwashers, ice machines, washing machines, and kitchen spray valves - anything that uses water - noting whether they are older fixtures or newer, more efficient models.

The study's goals are to:

. Help create a more sustainable campus environment by reducing water usage in existing facilities and new construction.

. Lessen the need for new water supply in the City of Santa Cruz.

. Compile data on fixtures into a campus system so all can benefit from detailed building fixture information.

. Increase campus awareness of ways to increase water efficiency.

The study will result in a report expected in September that will:

. Identify improvements that could be made to campus facilities and operations to reduce water consumption.

. Analyze the cost-effectiveness of potential improvements.

. Recommend top priority measures to be carried out within the next five years, and lower priority measures that may be implemented in subsequent years.

UCSC has hired Maddaus Water Management, an Alamo, Calif., consulting firm that specializes in water conservation and management, to conduct the survey and prepare the report.

Most of the data will be collected by a team of 11 students who will measure faucet and shower flow rates, time toilet flushes, look for leaks, and check for missing faucet aerators. The students will also survey campus irrigation systems.

During the summer, Maddaus Water Management will conduct additional surveys of water used in labs, greenhouses, cooling towers, and other facilities. The consultants will then evaluate the data, develop a list of improvements the campus could make to reduce water consumption, and rank the potential improvements according to cost effectiveness.