A quiet boardroom of people listened Wednesday, April 9, during an informational public meeting to discuss WSU’s municipal water system plan.
Meeting leader Rob Corcoran, executive director of facilities operations, said that in accordance with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, water system plans are required to do an update every six years. WSU’s plan will expire in December 2008.
(Photo of Rob Corcoran and meeting members)
 
The overall mission of the plan is to make the best use of available resources to provide high-quality service and protect the health of utility customers. Corcoran said the plan only covers the main Pullman campus, which uses approximately 27 miles of water pipes.
 
Despite the increase in students, faculty and facilities, water consumption on campus has steadily decreased over the last 20 years.
 
“Normally you’d think (water use would) go up,” Corcoran said. “But ours has actually gone down with the help of (conservation by) a lot of people and departments.” According to the draft, water use is at its lowest since 1962.
 
In response to the sometimes heated public dialogue regarding water conservation, Corcoran said the new plan is working to incorporate:
 
* A full-time position for water conservation and storm-water program management
* A water-use efficiency rate structure for the expanded golf course
* An installation program to provide water meters on all irrigation facilities by 2011
* Continued lobbying with the state Legislature concerning the reclaimed water project
 
Additional conservation efforts include installation of more service meters, irrigation controllers for landscape management, and the continued upgrade of plumbing fixtures.
 
Following the presentation, meeting participants questioned the 50-60 million gallons of water used each year for air conditioning.
 
Corcoran explained that the demand for air conditioning is continuing to rise, and the chill water distribution system used requires a lot of water.
Keith Bloom, quality assurance office for capital planning and development, said WSU is looking into alternative cooling methods that use soil, rather than water, as the cooling interface.
 
Another participant questioned the cost of aquifer storage and recovery, which has been proposed to help meet water needs while conserving and restoring the Grande Ronde aquifer. Corcoran said figures are not yet available.
 
Written comments on the water plan will be accepted until 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 23. Mail them to: Gary Wells; Washington State University; Facilities Operations; McCluskey Services Building; Pullman, WA 99164-1150.
 
To view the complete proposal visit http://facops.wsu.edu/watersystemplan.htm.