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Stanford has an extensive history of water conservation and manages a considerable network of water resources and infrastructure to meet the current needs of campus and plan for future campus growth, while also preserving ecological systems. To help expand water conservation and sustainable practices, the Water Efficiency Program was created in 2001 and has overseen thousands of water conservation retrofits and projects. 

Over the past 15 years, conservation retrofits and projects, capital improvements, and behavior changes have reduced water use by 49%, or a reduction of 1.3 million gallons on an average day in 2016 compared to 2001.  Learn about ongoing conservation initiatives.


View the 2016-17 Sustainability Year in Review for more in-depth data on water use. 

Key water conservation activities this year included the following:

  • The School of Medicine, a champion of water conservation and stewardship, converted nine standard irrigation controllers to weather-based irrigation controllers at four sites.  In the first year after the conversion, these sites saw a reduction in irrigation water use of 45% compared to 2013.
  • Building off a successful initial collaboration, members of Stanford Campus Residential Leaseholders and the Water Quality, Efficiency, and Stewardship (WQES) team partnered with OnPoint EcoSystems and the Santa Clara Valley Water District to conduct Phase 2 of the Residential Smart Irrigation Controller Pilot Study.  Participants in Phase 2 saw a 38% reduction in water use during the study’s first year.
  • Together with the Department of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation (DAPER), the Water Efficiency Program sub-metered a selection of pools to track water use patterns to better understand evaporation rates.
  • In 2016, Stanford irrigated almost all of academic campus  with non-potable irrigation water, and the majority of irrigation controllers use weather-based controls. 
  • WQES expanded its interactive Water Conservation Program Map, detailing water conservation retrofit projects since 2002. Users can explore over 300 indoor and outdoor projects and water-efficient equipment upgrades, as well as estimated water savings where available. The map also includes general water profiles for each new university building opened since 2007.