In an effort to reduce the school’s carbon footprint, UWT will build a new weather station designed to save water usage in our community. The weather station will gather information to let UW Tacoma’s gardeners know how much to water certain parts of the grass.
The school is going through a multiphase process in order to maximize water efficiency, and one of the steps of the process is the new Rainbird technology. Rainbird, a brand of water irrigation system, was installed this year due to the cities of Tacoma, Everett, and Seattle calling for a 10% water usage reduction. It is programmed to irrigate 35% less frequently than normal, but it is still enough to maintain green grass as opposed to dead, dry, brown grass. According to UW Tacoma’s Director of Facilities Service, Stanley Joshua, “If you’re a parent or a student, that brown looks really ugly. It looks like the place isn’t taken care of.”
The new weather station, which will be installed at the south end of the Prairie Line Trail, will be able to gather real time information such as absorption rate, evaporation rate, and temperature. Being able to tell the absorption rate will determine the speed in which water soaks into the soil, and will show how often the plants need to be watered. The evaporation rate will test how much of the water evaporates directly off of wet soil surfaces.
That can make a difference in the amount of water needed to combat that direct evaporation and being able to water the plants efficiently. Being able to tell the temperature of the water is necessary for irrigation because it aids in knowing which water temperature is best for the grass in our community.
According to Kim Bode, UW Tacoma’s lead gardener, the new weather system also allows a new flexibility that wasn’t there before because it factors in rain. If our plants and grass need an inch of water and it rains half an inch, the weather system will signal the Rainbird system and it will know to only water the irrigation for another half inch.
Since the UWT campus and the other two UW campuses are making an effort to reduce water waste, there are plenty of ways to reduce water usage at a personal level. According to savingwater.org, which is a group of local water utilities in Seattle and King County, students can “save water at home, in their yard or garden, or at a business and organization.” Examples include turning off the faucet when washing hands or brushing teeth. Reducing water usage can also help both students and the campus save money as well as the environment.