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Sustainable Water Use

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The Water Planning and Stewardship (WP&S) group manages and maintains Stanford's civil infrastructure: water, sewer and storm drainage systems, in conjunction with an extensive water efficiency and stewardship program focusing on sustainable water use.

Stanford regularly collaborates with regional water agencies on all aspects of water management and monitoring efforts to determine sustainable yields from regional water sources. The university receives potable water from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), which draws water from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in the Sierra Nevadas as well as other reservoirs in local watersheds. Stanford uses local surface water and well water to provide non-potable irrigation water to the campus. Almost all of the academic campus' irrigation water comes from creeks and wells on Stanford land, preserving treated or potable drinking water for domestic and sensitive research purposes.

The group aims to continuously improve the successful water efficiency program, develop new strategies to maximize use of surface runoff, preserve treated domestic water for critical campus uses, and protect water-dependent habitat.

Stanford continues 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. In addition, the university has established guidelines to reduce water use in new buildings by at least 25% compared with similar, existing buildings, and new projects to advance water recycling and reuse are under way.


By carefully monitoring irrigation practices, making changes to irrigation and building systems, and adding weather-based irrigation controllers (WBICs), almost all major campus groups have achieved significant reductions in water consumption, comparing calendar year 2021 to calendar year 2013 (the pre-drought baseline).

Water Use Reductions By Major Groups: Calendar Year 2021 vs. 2013

Water Use Reductions by Major Groups: Calendar Year 2021 vs. 2013