Brown is the new green on campus

Laine Wherritt

As California experiences the worst drought in 1200 years, CSUN is upping their water sensitive landscaping to adapt. The campus is in the process of implementing several different water saving initiatives that aim to decrease the annual water usage by an estimated 2.8 million gallons.

Director of Physical Plant Management Jason Wang said efforts to remove and replace grass around the campus began back in 2012 when the drought was not as severe.

“We were concerned about protests if we took out the grass,” he said. “We started at North Plummer by Lindley Avenue.” The changes were well-received.

CSUN is not alone in its efforts to save water, although it has completed several water conscious transitions that are still in progress elsewhere. Campuses across the state have been working toward similar goals.

According to their website, the Los Angeles Unified School District is partnering with the West Basin Municipal Water District and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to replace urinals and water closets with low-flow options. CSUN has already replaced all campus urinals with waterless or ultra-low flow options.

The Campus Facilities Planning Department has listed more than 10 completed projects that have either eliminated or significantly lowered water usage. Turf removal and tolerant plant installations have been changing the scenery around Arbor Court, Redwood Hall and several streets throughout campus.

Other zero-water-use changes include the USU Rec Field, which has had artificial turf installed, which does not require irrigation.

Grassy areas that will not be replaced with turf are being exchanged for native plants that, once established, flourish without water. According to Wang, they only need water about once every two weeks.

According to LADWP, over 80 percent of the city’s water is imported, with only 13 percent local groundwater and 1 percent recycled water contributing as a usable source.

At CSUN, an irrigation system will be scheduled according to changes in the weather and the fluctuating levels of water needed to sustain plant life.

The facilities department has even put an Irrigation Strike Team into place who, according to their website, are “tasked with upgrading the campus’ irrigation system,” while also making sure all zones are properly covered and not watering sidewalks or pavements.

The changes to the landscape around campus are permanent for the foreseeable future, according to Wang.

“There are some areas that will have to have grass for programming,” he said, such as in front of the Oviatt Library where commencements are held.

The next major locations that will see a change in landscape are south of Sierra Hall and west of Manzanita. Places where the “Brown is the New Green” signs are located are in talks to be developed and transitioned to more water-conscious landscaping options.