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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 the environment. The Water Planning and Stewardship (WP&S) team created the Water Efficiency Program in 2001 to help expand water conservation and sustainable practices, and oversee thousands of water retrofits and projects.

Over the past 18 years, conservation projects, retrofits, capital improvements, and behavior changes have reduced potable water use by 45%, or a reduction of 1.2 million gallons on an average day in 2018 compared to 2001.  Learn about ongoing conservation initiatives.


View the 2018-19 Sustainability Year in Review for more in-depth data on water use. 

Key water conservation activities this year included the following:​

  • Continued to work with campus groups including the School of Medicine, Athletics, LBRE Grounds Maintenance, and Residential & Dining Enterprise to continue water conservation projects throughout campus.
  • WP&S continued to pilot new low water use technology, including a dual-setting aerator that used between 0.06-0.3 gallons per minute, a savings between 85-98% when compared to traditional faucet aerators!
  • WP&S Partnered with Athletics to test three low flow shower head fixtures. While testing the shower heads, we gathered locker room occupancy to better understand facility use. The results showed that showers lasted an average of five to seven minutes, depending on the locker room.
  • Stanford began operating a new stormwater capture system. The fields at Sand Hill act not only as an area of recreation, but also as a giant stormwater detention basin to collect excess stormwater during rain events, rather than overwhelming the local creeks with runoff. Once the stormwater is collected, it is filtered and pumped to Felt Lake. The non-potable water from Felt Lake is then used to meet the majority of campus’s landscape irrigation demands. By Stanford implementing more regional stormwater controls like this detention basin, it will free up space around buildings for other purposes and allow Stanford to diversify their water supply by adding an alternative water supply.
  • Stanford’s annual Water Wise campaign, which raised awareness about Stanford’s water systems and infrastructure and encouraged the campus community to participate in local Earth Week service opportunities, resulted in over 500 water conservation actions taken by nearly 200 community members through the My Cardinal Green platform. Additionally, 50 people volunteered time in the Arizona Garden and Stanford Foothills in the annual Service Day. For the first time, Stanford Water Stewardship & Planning’s team led a tour group of participants through Stanford’s Arts District to learn about stormwater facilities.