Facilities services are introducing new water saving tactics to aid the college’s conservation efforts during Pasadena’s moratorium on water usage.
According to Measure P Projects Director Jack Schulman, the simple method of reusing pool water for wash-downs would be a sustainable approach to water use.
“Normally, when we wash down the pool decks and bleachers, we use the city water only,” said Schulman, who’s taken care of the college’s swimming pool for 16 years. “This is a waste as it is a single use process only.”
The pool water would be used to wash down the decks and bleacher areas since the water is already suitable for the process and would pose no health issues. Water from the pool’s surge pit would then replace the pool water.
And there’s strong support for the use of reclaimed water from the city higher ups. “Pasadena Water and Power are in static about this,” said Reuben Smith, executive director of facilities services.
Facilities services would also begin walnut shell blasting instead of the conventional silica sand blasting for the removal of contaminates like graffiti removal, paint, or corrosion removal. According to Schulman, sand blasting has its downfalls, including surface degradation
“Silica sand and the associated dust it creates it also considered hazardous,” Schulman said. “Special breathing apparatuses must be worn during use. Additionally, after the initial use of the silica sand, the remnants must be collected and remove from site.”
Walnut shells, on the other hand, contaminate with far less surface damage and pose no health issues. After usage, the walnut shells can be left in the lawn or planters as mulch – which will help with water conservation because walnut shells will help in preserving moisture.
Gov. Jerry Brown called for immediate action in water conservation, hoping to reduce water use by 25 percent in cities all across California.
The city of Pasadena consumes twice the state average of water per capita daily at 86 gallons, serving a population of up to 165,740 people. In data collected by The New York Times, Pasadena upped its consumption by five percent in two years.
Pasadena City College, as an institution, is in the forefront of water conservation efforts, according to Sarah Flores, the energy and sustainability supervisor of facilities and construction services.
“Water conservation efforts have been ongoing for the past 10 years or so,” she said.
PCC has undergone a variety of projects, including ultra-low flow urinals, changes in landscaping, and irrigation efficiency improvement.
The campus follows water ordinances handed down from the state and the city. Pasadena Water and Power’s guidelines state that from November through April, the campus is only to irrigate once a week. From April through September, they are allowed to water twice a week.
Additionally, PCC installs xeriscaping, landscaping and gardening that reduces or completely eliminates the use of water.
In an attempt to reduce, reuse, recycle, and combat global warning, the facilities department also pushed forward “forever bottles” by installing water hydration stations. These Brita filtration systems are touch-free, hygienic water dispensers. The school now has more than seven filters around campus, including the library and the C Building.
There seems to be an eyesore happening in front of the Mirror Pools, however, giving the impression that PCC is irrigating during the wrong times.
“Recently, we performed major sidewalk renovation north of the campus that damaged some sprinkles, so repairs are ongoing,” Flores said. “The signage was given to us by PWP to post for public information so that public will understand why the water is on and understand that we are not irrigating during the day times hours.”
But there’s more work to be done, and Elena Pierce, Associated Students Vice President of Sustainability, is hoping to introduce another measure.
“In the future, I am hoping to promote automatic water faucets in the restrooms to promote the conservation of water,” she said.
Pasadena has shown strong support for the governor’s call for more water conservation. Subsequently, the city had placed ordinances long before the call for action.
In July 2014, for instance, Pasadena Water and Power introduced a Level 1 Plan, which includes 13 permanent water waste prohibitions, such as no watering during periods of rain, and no watering outdoors between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. The city is still currently determining what additional water restrictions are needed to bolster the state’s efforts.