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Conserve Water

Governor Brown declared a drought state of emergency in January 2014. Since then, the drought has worsened and the Governor is now mandating a 25-percent reduction in water use for California residents. 

The state government has released a brief drought update report, mentioning key action items such as the U.S. EPA supported upgrade to Sacramento's regional wastewater treatment plant and state funds for schools promoting stormwater capture, as well as ongoing drought support like emergency food aid and utility assistance. Read the Weekly Drought Update.
What is Santa Clara University doing to conserve water?

Conservation has been a long-term commitment of the University. Read below for the University's ongoing efforts, as well as new initiatives in response to the current water restrictions. Join the campus community in dealing with the water shortage by participating in daily conservation actions, listed below. For more information, please also visit our Buildings and Grounds - Water Conservation page.

By the Numbers
In 2013, SCU used 81.7 million gallons of potable water. That's about 7,800 gallons of potable water per person, which equates to roughly 21 gallons per person, per day. To reduce our usage 25%, we need to conserve 5 gallons of water per person each day.
  • Take Action Now

    Please report any wasted water (running toilets or dripping faucets) immediately (408-554-4742 or If you live on campus, please submit a work request via eCampus.

    Please share your suggestions for ways the SCU community can further reduce our water consumption (

    Encourage your peers to conserve water by sharing your water-saving strategies in conversation and on social media. #BroncosSaveWater #SustainableSCU #CAdrought 

  • Run sprinklers in the early morning or evening to reduce evaporation and as your city water/municipal water directs. If you have a garden, install drip irrigation, which is more efficient than sprinklers.
  • Buy a bucket to capture water as it it heating up your shower. Use the bucket water for washing dishes or watering plants.
  • By saving energy, we reduce the amount of water needed for energy production. Power Needs Water.
  • Wash only full loads for dishwasher and laundry machines.
  • Use a broom to clear sidewalks, driveways, and patios.
  • Limit car washing to a minimum. Check the weather forecast ahead of time too to avoid washing your car unnecessarily.
  • Install low-flow devices such as low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators. These are distributed for free to Santa Clara residents. Call the Santa Clara Valley Water District at 408-265-2600.
  • Get awesome, interactive water conservation tips for your home, both indoors and outdoors via
  • The Santa Clara Valley Water District has great resources for water conservation, which includes several rebate programs for homeowners


  • Please report any leaks or broken sprinklers to Facilities (408-554-4742 or 
  • Turn off the faucet when soaping up hands.
  • By saving energy, we reduce the amount of water needed for energy production. Power Needs Water.



  • Reduce shower time to 5 minutes or less.
  • By saving energy, we reduce the amount of water needed for energy production. Power Needs Water.
  • Turn off water while brushing and shaving and turn water back on only to rinse.
  • Wash only full loads for dishwasher and laundry machines. If you can't fill the laundry machine with only your clothes, find a buddy to share the space and split the cost!
  • Please report any leaks to Facilities (408-554-4742 or



  • Talk to your landlord about water conservation issues and kindly suggest actions like fixing any leaks and broken sprinklers, or removing decorative landscaping. Consider drought-tolerant or California natives instead.
  • Buy a bucket to capture water as it it heating up your shower. Use the bucket water for washing dishes or watering plants.
  • Wash only full loads for dishwasher and laundry machines. 
  • Water plants in the early morning or evening to reduce evaporation.
  • Limit garbage disposal use. This not only uses energy, but also requires water to flush debris down the drain. Opt for a compost system in the backyard or a vermicomposting bin (worms as pets!). Contact for a worm bin!
  • By saving energy, we reduce the amount of water needed for energy production. Power Needs Water.
  • Calculate your Water Footprint with National Geographic's informative online tool. 

What more can we do?

Conservation is the most affordable, reliable, and quickest way to take action. If you have questions about the drought, check out our sustainability FAQ's or if you are curious about SCU's current water conservation efforts, look at the Operations page. Here are a few tips and resources to get you started:

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    Campus Fountains

    The Sobrato, Daly Science, and University Villas fountains have been turned off. The Benson fountain was turned back on in 2017. The St. Ignatius, and Abby Sobrato fountains will also remain on.

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    Facilities - Buildings

    Buildings on campus are already equipped with water-saving technology, such as low-flow/dual-flush toilets, sink faucet aerators, and waterfree urinals. The Facilities department is increasing efforts to more efficiently monitor these fixtures as well as implementing technology to detect and respond to leaks. Facilities will no longer wash the exterior of buildings' windows.

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    Recycled Water

    The majority of campus grounds is irrigated with water from purple pipes. Recycled water is also used for toilet flushing in several buildings, and will soon be used in two decorative fountains. SCU has been using recycled water since 2003. In the last decade, recycled water has avoided the use of 487.5 million gallons of freshwater. In 2013, SCU used 47.6 million gallons of recycled water.  Facilities is exploring the expansion of recycled water use. 

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    Associated Student Government (ASG)

    ASG and the Center for Sustainability are sponsoring the "60 Seconds Less" campaign, which encourages SCU community members to pledge to cut 60 seconds or more off showering time. The campaign also educates about navy showers, a method of turning off the water when soaping, or lathering up, and turning water on only for rinsing. 

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    The Forge Garden

    The campus garden is replacing all annual non-vegetable plants and flowers with California natives and drought-tolerant species. The garden is also on a drip irrigation system, thus reducing the risk of over-watering vegetables and trees.

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    Campus Recreation

    The Sullivan Aquatic Center covers the swimming pool at night to help prevent evaporation. Bellomy Field was converted in 2011 from natural grass to synthetic material, which requires less water for maintenance. 

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    Residence hall bathrooms have several kinds of water-efficient fixtures, including low-flow shower heads (1.5 gallons per minute), sink aerators (2.2 gpm), and toilets (1.6 gpm). Laundry facilities include only front-loading washing machines, which uses 35-50% less water than top-loading models. 

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    Faculty and students are partnering with Facilities to conduct water-saving projects. Students in the Sustainable Living Undergraduate Research Project (SLURP) are conducting fixture audits in campus restrooms to determine where to target our efforts for upgrades and replacements and analyzing use of our outdoor landscaping to identify low-use areas for potential conversion to native plants and/or xeriscaping. A communication course is organizing, conducting, and evaluating a public forum to promote student dialogue and deliberation about several approaches the University can take to further reduce water use on campus.

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    Dining Services

    Dining Services by Bon Appetit is committed to using only low flow spray nozzles and drip systems throughout their facilities and ensuring that dish machines are only running when necessary, steamers are turned off when not in use, etc. SCU Dining Services also promotes vegetarian and vegan choices as low water options and encourages guests to make low-water food selections.

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