Water

New Initiatives

  • California Drought:  On January 17, 2014, Governor Brown issued a Declaration of Emergency for the State of California due to drought and severe water shortage conditions in various parts of the state.  While there are currently no mandatory water restrictions, the Governor is asking for voluntary reductions and Stanford is committed to doing our part.  Stanford is currently working with the local authorities to determine next steps for meeting a new water reduction target for California.  To learn more about what you can do to help now, check out the water supply fact sheet and Call to Action.  The campus will launch an informational and action driven campaign in mid-April.
  • New Research Initiative on testing Waste Water Resources Recovery:  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 new test facility located on Bonair Siding will test 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.  

Sustainable Water Initiatives at Stanford 

Stanford practices sustainable water use by managing available resources to meet university needs while preserving ecological systems and maintaining this vital resource for future generations.

We receive potable water from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), which draws water from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in the Sierra Nevada and local watersheds to serve 27 Bay Area cities and agencies. Nearly 75 percent of campus irrigation water comes from creeks and wells on Stanford land.

Our current potable water use is well below our average-day SFPUC allocation of 3.033 million gallons. Stanford’s water conservation, reuse and recycling program is one of the most aggressive in the Bay Area, with full implementation expected to save more than 0.6 million gallons per day (mgd)—or 20 percent of the university’s total allocation.

We’re developing a Sustainable Water Management Plan to guide our long-term water supply development, water conservation, wastewater and storm-water management and habitat conservation programs. We’re also collaborating with regional water agencies on all aspects of water management and monitoring efforts by California agencies to determine sustainable yields from regional water sources.

In January 2007, Stanford became the first university to join the California Urban Water Conservation Council. Membership gives us the chance to work with experts on innovative technologies and processes, comment on new proposals or legislation and share our experience in improving water efficiency.

Stanford has received the 2009 Silicon Valley Water Conservation Award. This award honors outstanding achievements in water conservation among businesses, local governments, organizations, and individuals in the Silicon Valley region. “Recognizing the primacy of water issues to the health and economic vitality of our region and to the environment, the Silicon Valley Water Conservation Awards are presented to organizations, agencies, businesses and individuals whose programs and leadership have advanced water conservation in Silicon Valley (San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, and Alameda County from Hayward south)”. Visit the Silicon Valley Water Conservation Awards website for more information.

Goals & Results

Key goals are to continuously improve our successful water conservation program, develop new strategies to maximize use of surface runoff and preserve treated domestic water for critical campus uses, and protect water-dependent habitat.

The university completed 50 major water efficiency retrofit projects from 2001 through 2008, pushing down average domestic use from 2.7 mgd in 2000–01 to 2.3 mgd in 2007–08, despite campus growth. Other results include:

  • Retrofits in student housing have cut water use by about 120 million gallons annually since 2001—a 37 percent reduction.
  • Replacing once-through cooling systems in laboratories with recirculating systems that reuse the cold water has saved about 0.174 mgd.
  • Installation of 58 water-saving devices on sterilizers reduced water use by about 0.084 mgd.
  • At Stanford dining facilities, replacing standard dishwashers with trough conveyers that constantly recycle water cut water use by about 142 gallons per hour—a 51 percent savings.

Visit the Stanford Utilities water conservation page to learn more about the 2001 through 2009 key water conservation accomplishments.

We continue to improve water efficiency in existing buildings through maintenance and retrofits, and to educate campus users about the need for water conservation on the personal and community levels. Find out what you can do here.

In addition, the university has established guidelines to reduce water use in new buildings by at least 25 percent, compared with similar existing buildings (learn more at Buildings), and new projects to advance water recycling and reuse are under way. Visit the Stanford Utilities water conservation website for more information about 2001-2009 key water conservation projects.

“If we are to leave our children a better world, we must take steps now to create a sustainable environment. So it is critical that we model sustainable citizenship on our own campus.”
— John Etchemendy
Provost, Stanford University
The Energy Retrofit Program has delivered an estimated cumulative savings of over 240 million kilowatt-hours of electricity since it began in 1993—and prevented 72,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions.
New buildings must use 30 percent less energy and 25 percent less potable water than similar traditional buildings.
Systems retrofits to the most energy-intensive buildings on campus are expected to save $4.2 million a year and cut energy use by 28 percent.
About 40 percent of Stanford Dining produce is organic or regionally grown; some is even grown on campus.
About 60 percent of Stanford’s total contiguous land remains undeveloped.
Recycled paper is less expensive than virgin paper under the campus-wide office supply contract.
From 2002 to 2010, the percentage of Stanford employees driving alone to campus dropped from 72 to 48 percent.
Stanford diverted 64 percent of its solid waste from landfills in 2008—more than 14,500 tons.
Stanford completed 50 major water efficiency retrofit projects from 2001 through 2008, pushing down average domestic use from 2.7 million gallons per day (mgd) in 2000-01 to less than 2.3 mgd in 2007-08, despite campus growth.
The goal of Sustainable IT is to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions generated by our IT infrastructure.
The goal of Sustainable IT is to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions generated by our IT infrastructure.
Stanford invests IN sustainability through a broad range of initiatives in research, education, efficiency improvement, conservation systems, new technology, student-led projects and more.
New buildings must use 30 percent less energy and 25 percent less potable water than similar traditional buildings.
New buildings must use 30 percent less energy and 25 percent less potable water than similar traditional buildings.
Systems retrofits to the most energy-intensive buildings on campus are expected to save $4.2 million a year and cut energy use by 28 percent.
About 40 percent of Stanford Dining produce is organic or regionally grown; some is even grown on campus.
From 2002 to 2008, the percentage of Stanford employees driving alone to campus dropped from 72 to 51 percent.
Stanford diverted 64 percent of its solid waste from landfills in 2008—more than 14,500 tons.
Stanford diverted 64 percent of its solid waste from landfills in 2008—more than 14,500 tons.
The Energy Retrofit Program has delivered an estimated cumulative savings of over 240 million kilowatt-hours of electricity since it began in 1993—and prevented 72,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions.
Stanford completed 50 major water efficiency retrofit projects from 2001 through 2008, pushing down average domestic use from 2.7 million gallons per day (mgd) in 2000-01 to less than 2.3 mgd in 2007-08, despite campus growth.
New buildings must use 30 percent less energy and 25 percent less potable water than similar traditional buildings.

RECOGNITION

Silicon Valley Water Conservation Award in the Large Organization category (2009)

Clean Bay Award, Palo Alto Regional Water Quality Control Plant (1997–2007)

Leadership recognition, for eliminating the use of antibacterial soaps, Palo Alto Regional Water Quality Control Plant (2007)

Santa Clara Valley Urban Runoff Pollution Prevention Program Award, for the site design for storm-water pollution prevention at Stanford Stadium (2007)