The California drought is over, but the water crisis isn’t. Despite record rainfall, Southern California still has to tackle ongoing challenges of waste water and storm water, watershed storage and conservation. CSUN will help tackle these community issues through the City of Los Angeles One Water LA initiative.
Faculty and staff from around campus recently met with city representatives to get the conversation started on dealing with water demands and solutions. University reps and city officials will work together on addressing the city’s water needs, resources and facilities. “We have faculty interested in long-term studies,” said Sherry Sidick, associate director of external relations for the Tseng College. “There are opportunities we can offer for the One Water Plan. Faculty and staff asked excellent questions at the meeting to start the ball rolling with possible proposals and/or relationships. The One Water plan will help the region with sustainability.”
Information from that initial on-campus meeting circulated throughout university departments. A post-meeting survey to faculty brought good feedback. “Responses have been positive,” Sidick said. “The geography department wants to put together a proposal. Other departments such as math and engineering could get involved with studies and data.”
California had the second wettest rainfall season in 2016-2017 in its history, but water issues aren’t over. Groundwater still needs replenishment after the five-year drought. Saving water goes beyond watering lawns fewer times a month or using less tap water. Water issues encompass irrigation, utilities, preserving rivers and wetlands, water storage, vast agricultural water needs, and dealing with projected increases in water usage.
The Los Angeles initiative is part of a statewide commitment to water sustainability. State agencies released a plan this year to move the state to long lasting water-use efficiency. In urban areas, major water savings lie in reducing landscape irrigation. Landscape watering makes up about half of all urban water uses. The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Economic Research Service reports that irrigated agriculture accounts for the largest share of the nation’s consumptive water use. California has the second largest share of U.S. irrigated area in the country.
CSUN has its own honors when it comes to water. The California Higher Education Sustainability Conference awarded CSUN its 2017 Award for Water Efficiency/Site Quarter Quality. The Student Recreation Center, Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts, and Extended University Commons building have LEED (Leadership and Energy in Environmental Design) Gold ratings. CSUN practices sustainability throughout the campus, including improved irrigation systems and planting drought-tolerant vegetation.
Despite substantial reductions in water use by California agricultural, business and residential water customers, efficient water use remains a top priority. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, “If past patterns of California land-use change continue, projected water needs by the year 2062 will increase beyond current supply.”
Meetings with the City of Los Angeles on the One Water LA plan will move forward, with university-created proposals, studies and plans a vital part of finding solutions. CSUN’s outreach to the community will help keep the water flowing.