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Water Wise

This is YOur State on Drought

Stanford's award-winning water conservation program has reduced potable water use by 20 percent over the last decade – despite continued campus growth – through commitment, dedication, innovation and implementation of a comprehensive set of water saving measures. The Stanford Energy System Innovations (SESI) project that came on line in April 2015 will further reduce campus potable water use by another 15 percent. As we enter the fourth consecutive year of drought, it is imperitive that each  individual take actions to help achieve maximum water efficiency and comply with state mandates for water reduction. 

Get Involved

Pledging to conserve through individual action is just the start. Incorporate additional actions that contribute to conservation efforts:

  • Reduce irrigation: Effective August 1, 2014 irrigation in Faculty and Staff Housing may occur only on Tuesday and Saturday nights for even numbered addresses, and Wednesday and Sunday nights for odd numbered addresses, between the hours of 7pm and 7am. Qualifying Stanford residents can receive a weather-based irrigation controller for a discounted price of $99.
  • Opt to eat less meat: 1800 gallons of water. That's how much it takes to produce one pound of beef. At roughly 500 gallons of water per pound of chicken, the reduction is notable, but still significant. Cut back on meat to have an even greater impact on water consumption. Learn more about your water footprint
  • Practice responsible landscaping and irrigation in your home: Irrigation is one of the largest water consuming practices in the home. The water efficiency team offers landscaping classes, as well as Water Wise house audits for faculty housing units on campus. Learn more.
  • Get a sense of your water footprint: Water consumption comes from more than just the tap. Get a sense of how your daily decisions impact your water use with the water footprint calculater

Operational Efficiency & Retrofits

The department of Land, Buildings & Real Estate's utilities, zones, and operations management divisions will continue to implement the following additional efficiency measures:

  • Retrofitting remaining high water use indoor plumbing fixtures
  • Implementing a focused water use reduction program, particularly for outdoor uses (e.g. turning off water fountains, watering less often and/or at night to minimize waste due to evaporation or runoff)
  • Halt or reduce irrigation of purely decorative lawn areas that have little or no sports and recreation function.
  • Reduce water flow rates in faucet fixtures by installing aerators

Water Blend Survey

If you work in labs or with operations that depend on water quality, the university wants to hear from you as it evaluates the option of blending potable groundwater with potable San Francisco Public Utility Commission Water.

Please take a few minutes to review the Groundwater Blending scenario - PDF and the resulting expected water quality for four blending scenarios and complete the water-blend survey .

Why be Water Wise?

In March 2015, Governor Brown expanded emergency regulations due to drought and severe water shortage conditions, which have now persisted for four consecutive years. He declared mandatory 25% reductions for urban water districts. The university still awaits the mandatory regulations for commercial and industrial suppliers. 


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.

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.