California Water at USC

The history of Los Angeles and its growth is the story of water.  The city’s transformation from a desert to a booming metropolis is a direct result of securing and importing water resources from the Sierra Nevada mountains and the Colorado River.

As California’s population has grown and the state has experienced years of drought, water conservation has become essential.  For example, Los Angeles' emergency water conservation takes steps to limit water waste.  

USC has implemented several water conservation programs.  USC's Facilities Management Services maintains a campus-wide water management system to limit the amount of water used for irrigation. The system monitors soil moisture levels at ten stations on the campuses and only waters when levels indicate that watering is necessary. Furthermore, USC continually uses drought resistant plants to landscape.


USC Auxiliary Services has incorporated water conservation into their everyday operations.  USC Housing has installed low-flow showerheads, toilets, and efficient washing machines.  Additionally, Facilities Management Services saves energy and water from Cromwell Field, which is covered in artificial turf, because no watering, mowing, or re-sodding is required.  




Approximately 80% of the grassy areas on the University Park Campus are controlled by a Calsense Central Irrigation Control System. This system, managed by the Landscape and Grounds department of Facilities Management Services, automatically updates each night’s irrigation program by monitoring daily evapotranspiration (the sum of evaporation and plant transpiration).

Moisture sensors are installed in some areas and monitor moisture in the soil in order to manage irrigation schedules.  Flow sensors also notify USC when a problem arises so that the break can be repaired.

Examples of such sustainable watering practices in place at USC include: watering before 7:00 am to minimize evaporative loss, pulling cores to verify optimum depth of watering, and other practices such as aeration to minimize run-off. 


USC has significantly reduced water consumption on the University Park Campus since 2007 as shown in the following chart: 

USC Water Consumption DataWater consumption at USC varies by month depending on weather patterns, campus water needs, and other factors.  However, viewing water consumption by average monthly values helps to understand general water consumption trends at the University.