Maximizing water efficiency on campus

This past summer, UW Tacoma’s Facilities Services began to replace the original 1997 irrigation system around the center stairs of campus, between the Walsh Gardner and Garretson Woodruff Pratt buildings. There has been construction and trenching taking place with the installation of new pipes and valves. The hope for this project is to reduce the campus’ total water consumption. 

The project was intended to finish by the start of autumn quarter, but faced a setback that resulted it being delayed by five and a half weeks. Facilities Services on campus faced the challenge of finding an irrigation maintenance supervisor and hiring them, which took about three and a half weeks. The digging and replacement was wrapped up by Oct. 25. Now, the next step for the project is the replanting of native plants, which is expected to be completed by the first full week of November.

Tessa Coleman, associate director of Facilities Services, discussed how all parts of the project contribute to the reduction of water consumption — from the upgrades to the system, to the planting of native greenery, including tulips.

“We hope to reduce the consumption of water by 50% at the end of the project,” said Coleman. 

The cost of this project was built into the maintenance fund. The irrigation portion was the largest and most expensive part of the project, but since this was done mostly with in-house people and no contractors, the budget is still on course. 

Facilities Services also plans to involve students who actively participate in environmental sustainability in the replanting effort.

“Some students will be helping with the replanting process because student engagement is a better investment,” Coleman said.