Water consumed annually on the WSU Pullman campus over the last two decades has decreased by 31 percent, from 681 million gallons in 1986 to 478 million gallons in 2006.
 
Consumption dropped while the campus expanded, noted Ev Davis, associate vice president for Facilities Operations. The number of students increased by 2,435.
 
“This didn’t happen by accident,” he explained. “Our conservation success is more significant since, at the same time, our campus was growing, increasing the number of students and the number of buildings. It took a strong effort to cut consumption, with new equipment, leak repair, irrigation updates and housing updates.”
 
More conservation work is needed, and more is on the way, Davis said.
 
Water meter project
 
The university is beginning a campuswide metering project that will include locating and fixing water-wasting leaks.The Pullman campus will, over the next decade, be upgraded with water-measuring meters throughout the system, said Rob Corcoran, executive director of architecture, engineering and construction services for Facilities Operations. Until recently, no water systems for campus buildings were metered, so no measurement of building use or leakage was possible.
 
The meter project, which likely will cost about $3 million, was mandated by the 2003 Washington Municipal Water Law, Corcoran said.
 
That law required large water system users to develop a plan for metering all connections by July 2008, and then to complete that plan within 10 years. The Pullman campus is the only WSU campus affected by the law, since the other campuses share in municipal systems.
 
All new buildings and buildings under renovation will have meters installed during construction, Corcoran said. The more expensive retrofitting on older buildings will be organized through the planning process, which is not yet completed.
 
Golf course use
Completion of the 18-hole Palouse Ridge Golf Club next year will increase campus water use.
 
Keith Bloom, director of construction and quality assurance for WSU Capital Planning and Development, explained the change. The former 9-hole course is estimated to have used about 12 to 33 million gallons annually, depending upon the heat and dryness of the summer. About 35 acres of the 100 acres of the 9-hole course were irrigated.
 
The 18-hole course, which is 318 acres in size, will irrigate 120 acres, not quite four times as many as the old course. The 18-hole course, again depending on the weather conditions, will use an estimated 40 to 56 million gallons of water annually, about two to three times as much as the old course.
 
“Water use at the 18-hole course is much more efficient,” Bloom said.“It’s state-of-the-art. Each of the 2,500 sprinklers is computer-controlled. We’re planting heat-tolerant grasses in the irrigated areas, and we’ll have large expanses of non-irrigated native grasses bordering the acres in play.”
 
Addition of the 18-hole golf course will increase total campus annual water use to about 530 million gallons, Davis explained. That is more than the campus used in 2006, but less than used in 2004.
 
WSU did not have to add water rights or pumping capacity to meet the expanded golf course needs, Davis said.
 
“Over the next decade, as we complete the metering project and identify leaks in the system, water use will continue to go down,” he said. “We will be able to be more thorough in our approach and more effective in our conservation efforts.”
 
The proposed WSU-City of Pullman plan to build a wastewater reclamation project could further offset golf course water use is. The $13 million project would allow the university and city to recycle 1.3 million gallons of treated effluent per day. The proposal was vetoed by former Gov. Gary Locke in 2004, but WSU officials recently said they will list the reclamation project as a priority in the next WSU biennial budget.