Implementing a Sustainable Water Conservation Program to Address Enduring Water Resource Efficiency

Water use in California will continue to be a challenge as a growing population, urbanization, and potential disruptions associated with climate change will increase demand. Because water accounts for 20% of California’s electricity usage, reducing our water use as a campus also reduces the state’s carbon footprint.

water 20% of Californiaselectricity usage

In 2013 the UCI Water Resources Working Group formed to assemble the Water Action Plan (WAP). Building on past water conservation projects that have resulted in approximately 90 million gallons saved annually, the Water Resources Working Group has identified more than 50 initiatives, having the potential to reduce water use by an additional 25% (100 million gallons) as part of the WAP.


Water Action Plan

The Water Action Plan (WAP) is a roadmap for managing water resources at the UCI campus and medical center. The WAP takes a watershed approach to address water resource goals, planning strategies, and project opportunities in support of UC Policy on Sustainable Practices requirements, UC Irvine sustainable water system goals, and regulatory requirements. UC Policy on Sustainable Practices requires a potable water reduction of 20% by 2020 and 36% by 2025, with a three-year average baseline of FY2005/06, FY2006/07, and FY2007/08.

The WAP examines existing water supply, demand, water conservations and water quality accomplishments to date, and strategies for achieving water use and water quality goals. UCI’s water goals include UC Policy of 20% water savings with a stretch goal of 30% water savings from 2005-2007 baseline condition.  UC Irvine’s water use baseline (3 year average for fiscal years 2005-2007) was established in the UCI 2013 Water Action Plan based on University of California Sustainable Practices Policy guidelines.


Drought Response

UCI has reduced potable water consumption by 30% per capita since 2007 equal to approximately 112 million gallons saved annually. This reduction can be attributed to projects between 2007 and 2015. In the past year the following projects have been implemented:

  • Facilities Management replaced one acre of turf with a water wise meadow planting saving over 500,000 gallons of potable water annually.
  • Facilities Management upgraded equipment in the central plant cooling towers expecting to result in a 9.5 million gallon reduction in potable water annually.
  • The grounds department has reduced irrigation by 30% across campus.

UCI is actively responding to a Level II Water Shortage declared by the Irvine Ranch Water District (IRWD). Additional water conservation and drought information is available through the IRWD.

Local & Regional Partnerships

Working in partnership with the Irvine Ranch Water District (IRWD), UCI has used recycled water for landscape irrigation since campus inception in the early 1960s. As a result, approximately 34% of potable water currently used on campus is recycled through IRWD and reused on the campus for irrigation. In addition, UCI, IRWD, and regional water agencies have worked cooperatively to fund multiple water conservation projects on campus resulting in significant annual water savings.

Take Action

If you wish to report a leak, excessive water runoff, or other water waste on campus, please contact the Facilities Management Help Desk by phone at (949) 824-5444, or by emailing fm-servicedesk@uci.edu


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