California State University, Long Beach
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New Landscape To Fight Drought

Published: April 15, 2015

CSULB will embark on a major project to convert selected lawn areas on campus into drought tolerant landscapes that will be more water efficient and environmentally sustainable. Part of the university’s Water Action Plan, this lawn conversion project is a critical first step in transforming the campus into a model of sustainable, drought-friendly landscaping.

“At The Beach, we are committed to being a leader in the area of sustainability. This landscape project is the latest example of our ongoing efforts to preserve the environment,” said CSULB President Jane Close Conoley. “The project will immediately benefit the university by conserving water in compliance with recent drought legislation and will contribute greatly to our long-term sustainability. I ask that our community be patient as we transition from brown grass to beautiful, drought-resistant grounds.”

The lawn conversion initiative is just the latest campus water conservation project to be implemented. Other recently completed projects include installation of low flow urinals, faucet aerators, high efficiency toilets and low flow shower heads in the residence halls and across campus that will result in more than six million gallons of water saved every year.

To reduce water use on campus, CSULB has developed and implemented a Water Action Plan that outlines the following steps:

• Perform a comprehensive water use audit and implement projects with immediate impact

• Identify opportunities to use reclaimed water in place of potable water

• Develop a communication plan to encourage campus-wide water conservation

• Collaborate with faculty and students on water related courses and projects

• Strengthen partnerships and continue working with Long Beach Water Department to support CSULB water initiatives

• Plan future campus development for water resiliency

The first phase of the lawn conversion project began this month and is scheduled to be completed by August. It will begin by first shutting off the irrigation systems in the project areas, then browning and removing the lawn, and finally installing the new drought tolerant plantings, ground cover and hardscape. The total lawn area to be converted in phase one is nearly 90,000 square feet or approximately two acres. When completed, it is projected that CSULB will save about 3.5 million gallons of water and approximately $15,000 in associated water costs every year. Every year CSULB consumes about 200 million gallons of water, more than 50 percent of which is used for irrigating campus landscape and athletic fields.

With funding assistance from the CSU Chancellor’s Office and water rebates from Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s Water Smart program, CSULB is able to leverage internal utility conservation funds to implement the lawn conversion project this year so the campus can realize the water savings as soon as possible. CSULB also continues the tradition of collaborating with the Long Beach Water Department on campus water conservation projects by securing rebates to support the lawn conversion project.

In addition to the physical changes to campus landscaping, CSULB is also launching a public awareness campaign to educate the campus community about the goals of the lawn conversion project and the Water Action Plan, as well as the importance of water conservation efforts in general.

To view a map of the areas scheduled for conversion, please click here.