USC is tackling water conservation through the following initiatives:
Drought Tolerant Landscaping
USC Facilities has been incorporating drought tolerant plants throughout the UPC and HSC campus where aesthetically feasible. These changes have yielded water savings up to 43% for the converted areas. Further conversion is under review on an ongoing basis. Additionally, numerous drought tolerant and local trees are being installed at the HSC campus as part of the campus beautification project. USC uses a combination of native and drought tolerant plants in the campus’ non-turf planted areas. Some non-native drought tolerant plants are utilized because it allows the university to have a larger selection of plants to choose from, and drought tolerant plants are typically from similar climates and soils, so they tend to thrive in our region and use less water.
Much of the non-turf landscaping area at UPC is serviced by drip irrigation. A conversion to drip irrigation is currently underway at the Health Science campus with the goal of converting approximately 75% of the campus to drip systems. Roughly 60% of the project is complete.
The majority of the irrigation at UPC utilizes central irrigation controllers and weather-based sensors. HSC is currently converting irrigation zones to have more sensors and central controllers.
Recycled Water Utilization
Working with LADWP, USC has supported a water reclamation project bringing recycled water through a separate purple pipe to the UPC campus for irrigation and industrial uses. Significant infrastructure changes needed to use recycled water are underway.
Low-Flow Water Fixtures
FMS and USC Housing have been replacing old water fixtures across the UPC campus with new, efficient low-flow fixtures.
Keck Hospital Water Fixture Program
Partnering with WaterSavers consulting, Keck Hospital installed over 1,600 flow restrictors on sinks in the hospital as well as replacing 259 showerheads and 79 dialysis flow restrictors. This program had an after rebate cost of $29,280 and an annual savings of $71,379 and a simple payback around 5 months.
USC Housing has installed shower timers in all apartments and suite style bathrooms.
USC Village Stormwater Capture
USC was recently recognized by the Urban Land Institute’s Center for Sustainability and Economic Performance for the rainwater capture design of the new USC Village. The center’s new report Harvesting the Value of Water highlights the USC development as model case study. The Village stormwater capture system includes six-26,000 cubic-foot dry wells, roughly six feet in diameter and 60 feet deep. The wells capture and run the water through a filtration system before sending the water into the groundwater aquifer. This type of system is an important part of resilience planning in an era of extreme weather events. For more information, see the full report.