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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 21 years, conservation projects, retrofits, capital improvements, and behavior changes have reduced potable water use by 48%, or a reduction of 1.3 million gallons on an average day in 2021 compared to 2000.  Learn about ongoing conservation initiatives.


View the latest 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.
  • Stanford worked with ValveTek to operate a Neutral Output Discharge Elimination System (NO-DES) trailer from to maintain high quality drinking water across the entire campus. The technology was used in place of traditional fire hydrant and water main flushing. Compared to unidirectional flushing, the NO-DES pilot reduced water use by 90% (roughly 3.5 million gallons saved, enough to supply campus for more than 2 days). The pilot method also reduced the volume of water that was dechlorinated and discharged to the storm drain.
  • In 2020, the Water Planning & Stewardship team launched a new web-based customer portal, WaterSmart, that allow campus groups (such as Zones, SOM, DAPER) and individual homeowners to access their monthly, daily, and hourly water use. By providing near real-time water use and historical use information, along with leak and high use alerts, customers are better able to manage their water consumption and respond to abnormal trends quickly.