WSU achieves water conservation goals four years early
OGDEN, Utah — Over five years ago, Weber State University conducted a water awareness study about impending droughts in the state. It set a water conservation goal to reduce campus water usage by 30% by 2025. The university reached its goal in 2021.
The university reached its goal thanks to a campus water conservation specialist, new water practices, and the Water Council’s formation. Weather-sensitive irrigation systems and new toilets certified by the Environmental Protection Agency also helped decrease the campus’ water usage.
“I started working really quickly on what I call the Water Action Plan,” Drew Hodge said. Hodge is the Water Conservation and Stormwater Coordinator at WSU. “I worked on it for a number of years to get it right, and I broke our water usage into three categories. Culinary, secondary and stormwater. The goal of the plan was to improve our storm water management and lower the usage of culinary and secondary water on campus.”
Hodge and Troy Bell, landscape manager, had to get creative to use less water landscaping. They introduced the Water Warrior competition. The competition asked landscapers to use less water on campus while keeping everything healthy. At the end of the year, the landscapers who cut down an area’s water usage the most won prizes like a trophy and gift certificates.
WSU is looking to increase the number of xeriscaping projects on campus to further reduce water usage. Xeriscaping is a type of landscaping that drastically reduces or removes the need for irrigation.
“I encourage all members of the WSU community to look through the water action plan,” Hodge said. “This is a problem that Utah is facing, not just Weber State, and I think anybody can take part in the effective work we are doing here and add to it in meaningful ways.”