Water Initiatives

Ongoing and in-progress initiatives will continue to cut Stanford’s water use, and ultimately, recycled water could become our main source of “new” water.

Technical and systems innovations designed to reduce and reuse water include:

  • Stanford researchers and SEM Water Systems Group staff are collaborating on an exciting project to test recovery of clear water, energy and valuable materials from wastewater. The William and Cloy Codiga Resource Recovery Center tests new wastewater technologies to demonstrate their effectiveness and full-scale implementation potential. This is a joint effort among faculty researchers from the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, the Stanford-led Engineering Research Center “Re-inventing the Nation’s Urban Water Infrastructure” (ReNUWIt), and campus sustainability practitioners in Water Services and Civil Infrastructure in Sustainability and Energy Management. Read the fact sheet for more details.
  • In 2015, Stanford irrigated 90% of academic campus with non-potable lake water, and the majority of irrigation controllers use weather-based controls.
  • The Stanford Energy System Innovations project, which came online in spring 2015, significantly contributed to campus conservation efforts by reducing total campus potable water use by 15%.
  • A new parking lot on the west side of campus will incorporate permeable pavement to reduce runoff. Stanford is installing various designs to determine the optimal solution.
  • Stanford is studying recapture of storm runoff to tap that water resource and more closely approximate natural drainage flows.

Stanford completed dozens of  water efficiency retrofit projects from 2001 through 2015, pushing down average domestic use from 2.7 million of gallons per day (mgd) in 2000–01 to less than 1.89 mgd in 2014-15.

Download the Water Conservation fact sheet - PDF

Encouraging Conservation

Technical fixes can only take us so far. Raising student, staff and faculty residents’ awareness of water conservation needs and methods — and increasing water-efficient habits — is essential: student housing, dining facilities and faculty and staff residences account for nearly 50 percent of water use.

Water Wars

Students have risen to the challenge with the annual Water Wars competition between student residences to see which can cut  water use the most, compared with the previous spring. Organized by R&DE Student Housing and the Green Living Council, the contest rewards residences with the lowest water use on a per-student basis.

Green Living Council

Waterwise Demonstration Garden

In the faculty and staff housing area, the university created the Waterwise Demonstration Garden, with drought-tolerant plants, to illustrate and educate about alternatives to water-intensive landscaping. Outreach initiatives include providing information with water bills and promoting rebate incentives for water-efficient appliances to faculty and staff homeowners.

Additional Resources

Water Efficiency at Stanford website