By Jane Pojawa
In response to what has become the worst drought in 119 years, Gov, Jerry Brown signed an executive order on April 1, creating mandatory water use restrictions on cities and municipalities with significant implications for home use and businesses.
Californians will need to cut back water usage by at least 25 percent.
“We’re in a new era,” announced Brown at the press conference. “The idea of your nice little green grass getting water every day, that’s going to be a thing of the past.”
Large, ornamental lawns will be among the casualties of the drought. Campuses, cemeteries and golf courses are likely to go brown until the drought abates ” if it does. Many climatologists have concluded that the drought is part of a larger pattern of climate change and that the new reality for Californians is a significantly lower water usage.
Cal Poly Pomona may not have to take such a hard hit, thanks to some forward-thinking ecological practices that are already in place. The campus has used reclaimed water to irrigate fields and pastures since 1965.
“[The campus community should] be aware that all the irrigation on campus is done with reclaimed water, not potable water,” said Juan Araya, an agroecologist and instructor at the Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies. “That in itself is a very good water conservation issue; it not only reclaims used water but as it is used, it refills local aquifers.”
The campus gets its water from its own three wells and two reservoirs blended with surface water from the Colorado River and the State Water Project in Northern California. Facilities Management produces more than 157 million gallons of drinking water every year for the campus. Javier Arreguin, CPP’s new water system operations manager, is overseeing an exciting development for water conservation on campus.
“Currently our operations use one well that produces water to supply the campus,” said Arreguin. “Well water is blended with purchased water from MWD and pumped to our reservoirs to achieve a blend for potable use. Within the next few weeks, the [new] treatment plant will begin operations so that the campus can solely rely on well water and not have to purchase water from MWD.”
Brown’s executive order says that agricultural use of water is being monitored, but not restricted. This has caused a certain amount of grumbling from municipalities that feel that the burden unfairly rests on their shoulders when agricultural use accounts for 80 percent of California’s water consumption.
According to a 2012 report, Spadra Ranch, CPP’s satellite ranch where the university grows many vegetables for the Farm Store at Kellogg Ranch as well as corn, alfalfa and oranges, utilizes two wells under active management and drip irrigation on most vegetable crops. Sprinklers are only used on lettuce and sweet corn. Spadra Ranch’s water tables are monitored by both Facilities Management and the state’s health department and water control board, and are compliant with all regulations.
Norma Saldana, a senior science, technology and society student, is the president of CPP’s Green Team, a campus club that promotes the use of native plants in landscaping.
“Unfortunately, a lot of individuals that I’ve spoken to don’t think that this water drought is serious, or they believe it is a conspiracy,” said Saldana.
“These measures are way overdue, as we enter the fourth year in a consecutive drought that has transformed our once luscious California landscape. It will definitely be an opportunity to raise awareness on campus on how to install drought tolerant landscapes and promote native plants.”
Sungah Choi / The Poly Post
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