Kennedy Hall
Converting to drip irrigation at Kennedy Hall resulted in annual savings of more than 180,000 gallons of water.

Commitment to Water Conservation Runs Deep at Chapman Since 2014, the university has taken scores of steps that are saving hundreds of thousands of gallons a year.

Where thirsty tracts of turf once went unused for recreation, drought-tolerant plants now enhance the landscape. Where old-school sprinklers previously sprayed into the winds, sophisticated systems now water plants drip by drip.

All across the Chapman campus in Orange, the university’s commitment to water conservation is in full flower.

Those efforts first ramped up eight years ago, when it became clear that cycles of drought would persist in Southern California. Since then, Chapman has implemented a wide range of water-wise strategies to conserve this precious resource.

As the new academic year brings students back to campus, visitors will notice that Chapman is taking additional water-conservation steps every day.

“These steps show our commitment to conserving water in all the areas we can control and in the ways that have the most impact,” said Jenny Kaufman, manager of energy conservation and sustainability at Chapman. “We want to lead the charge on conservation and efficiency.”

Water-wise tip: Running a full load in the dishwasher uses less water, on average, than does handwashing dishes.

In a future Chapman Newsroom post, we will detail the water-saving actions being rolled out across campus as the school year progresses. But first, it’s important to trace these steps back to the headwaters of Chapman’s commitment, reflecting its longtime partnership with the City of Orange.

In 2014, the city announced water restrictions as a response to deepening drought conditions. Chapman immediately complied as it also started developing long-term strategies that anticipated further challenges ahead.

Over the ensuing eight years, the university has implemented a host of water-saving measures designed to meet the needs of the moment and those to come. Among them:

  • Introducing drip irrigation to non-turf landscape areas at Kennedy Hall, Doti Hall, Smith Hall and Bert Williams Mall.
  • Retrofitting sprinklers with low-flow nozzles in turf areas at Bert Williams Mall and the lawn at Musco Center for the Arts.
  • Adding more than 4,100 square feet of artificial turf to Residence Life areas.
  • Replacing water-intensive plants with drought-tolerant landscaping throughout the campus, including at The K, Kennedy Hall, Reeves Hall and Roosevelt Hall.
  • Installing 37 WeatherTrak smart irrigation controllers to the systems at Bert Williams Mall, the Musco lawn and on the Davis Quad. These controllers are equipped with moisture sensors and even programmed to pull local weather data so they shut off in the event of rain.

Together, these actions have saved and continue to conserve hundreds of thousands of gallons of water each year. As an example of the impact, at Kennedy Hall and the Bhathal Student Services Center alone, the shift to drought-tolerant landscaping and drip irrigation saves more than 575,000 gallons annually.

Water-wise tip: Converting to soy, oat, rice or almond milk can be a conservation step because all require less water to produce than does dairy milk.

Working with longtime landscaping contractor BrightView and landscape architect Matson Walter, Chapman continues to follow  “a pretty aggressive timeline to make a lot of reductions quickly,” Kaufman said. At the same time, the university recognizes the need to preserve grassy areas that serve the recreational needs of students.

“It’s important to save those gathering places, because a rewarding student experience is at the core of Chapman’s mission,” she added.

Also ingrained in Chapman’s values is a commitment to prudent stewardship of resources.

“We’re taking responsibility for our water and energy footprint,” Kaufman said. “Hopefully our efforts can serve as an example for students and others in our community.”

Dennis Arp