USC seeks to lead by example in the wise use of precious water resources and has already met or exceeded most of the conservation measures identified in the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s emergency restrictions

USC Outdoor Watering Reduction Strategy

Offsite Locations: All USC-owned and operated off-site buildings are 100% compliant with the recently implemented outdoor watering restrictions, e.g. times of day, length of cycles, odd/even addresses. Water-saving nozzles are present on a majority of the irrigation systems.

Non-Functional Turf: USC has carefully reviewed all turf areas to determine if they are used for recreation or other community events. All turf areas that have not been designated as event/functional spaces or athletics fields will no longer be receiving water. This will most likely result in browning of the grass areas. 

Trees: Trees in turf areas will continue to be watered per set schedule (odd/even address etc) in order to ensure their health. Trees provide important benefits to the local community from heat island effect to filtering air, and have been deemed a priority by the city. 

Fountains: All USC fountains recirculate water. The university is currently adding additional meters to certain fountains in order to better determine water loss and ensure best management practices.

Hand-Watering: Hand-watering during the allowable times of the days will be limited and only implemented in specific areas such as the color carpets and only as needed. Areas that require additional hand-watering will be examined to determine if alternate plantings should be considered. 

Irrigation Designation: The UPC campus has a complex irrigation system, as some irrigation controllers are not tied directly to a specific building, or control areas that cross several buildings with different addresses. This adds challenges to following the odd/even address designation. USC has carefully mapped and associated each controller with the nearest building to ensure all spaces are only watered twice a week per the time limit.

Athletics: In alignment with our university’s commitment to water reduction efforts during this unprecedented drought across the western United States, USC Athletics has adjusted operations at athletic facilities in order to meet conservation measures set by the State of California and the City of Los Angeles Phase 3 Water Conservation Ordinance. Sprinkler irrigation systems at our facilities are set for designated days and times within the 4 p.m.- 9 a.m. window, with spot watering as needed by hand.  In order to meet safety protocols set by the NCAA and other industry organizations, some of our athletic fields — the baseball infield and warning tracks, for example — must be maintained to certain standards. As the safety of our student-athletes and staff are of high priority, there will be times where additional watering will be required at our facilities, but we are committed to ensuring that the most minimal water usage is implemented in those situations. Per City of Los Angeles restrictions, such watering will only be done to meet health and safety concerns.  USC Athletics continues to strive to identify opportunities and strategies to reduce water usage, and our campus also depends on our community to help identify areas of water waste. Please report any on-campus broken sprinklers or water-related issues to the customer resource center at 213-740-6833.

USC Landscape Advisory Group: The USC Landscape Advisory Group has embarked on a Landscape Master Plan that will produce a list of best-suited native and climate-adapted plants, best irrigation practices, prioritization of project sites (ex. additional turf removal), estimated water savings, etc.

Continuous Improvement: USC will closely monitor usage and determine updates and adjustments to strategy as needed.

All of these water reduction efforts align campus operations with California’s new water realities and support USC’s Assignment:Earth goal of achieving a 20% potable water use reduction by FY28.

How You Can Help

We need your support. With acres of gardens across two large campuses, along with hundreds of buildings, Facilities Planning and Management (FPM) also depends on you to help identify any areas of water waste. If you see a broken sprinkler or any other water related issue, please report it to the Customer Resource Center at 213-740-6833 for UPC and 323-442-8005 for HSC or send an email to

In addition, here are more ways residential customers can change behaviors to reduce their water use: 

  • Limit showers to 4-5 minutes.
  • Capture and reuse shower water for watering plants. 
  • Turn off the faucet while brushing teeth.
  • Don’t take baths. 
  • Be judicious about flushing toilets.
  • Don’t hand-wash dishes. 
  • Eat less meat (growing meat is water-intensive). 
  • Don’t wash cars.

Find out more about what Southern California’s unprecedented water restrictions mean for you and check out the LADWP’s list of frequently asked questions.