Yellow lawns for a green future

Julisa Munoz, Marketing Manager

Affected area behind the University Police building on Sept. 7. Photo by Julisa Muñoz.

California State University, Bakersfield has decided to stop watering non-functional grass lawns on campus as a response to California’s ongoing drought. This is in compliance with the governor-mandated statewide water conservation, as announced in an email sent by Paula Bray, Director of Facilities Services Management Administration.

According to the email sent out by Bray on Aug. 17, 2022, CSUB will no longer water the lawn by parking lot K3, the lawn between Science III and Student Health Services, and the lawn behind the University Police building, as well as other small grass areas near the science buildings.

Unaffected areas include trees, shrubs, and the surrounding grass areas. Other areas that will go unaffected are recreational and sports fields and lawns that are reservable for events, according to a fact sheet from three years ago sent out by Bray.

Dr. Robert Crewdson, geology and hydrogeology lecturer at CSUB, explained the importance of the changes to irrigation at CSUB. “We are living in a time where water is a scarce commodity. When any commodity is scarce, when there is not enough to go around for everybody then we need to find ways to make water or any commodity to go as far as possible and to meet the most important needs of our community first,” said Crewdson. 

CSUB Capital & Facilities Management Services faculty Joseph Hedges and Jennifer Sanchez Biedermann wrote an informational fact sheet that explained how CSUB is working to manage its 373 acres of land.  

Prior to the irrigation changes made on Aug. 17, CSUB had made efforts to reduce the campus water usage by installing turf in grass areas near sidewalks and planting drought-tolerant plants. Drought-tolerant landscaping has also been added near the new construction campus in areas like Student Housing East, the Humanities office and classroom buildings, as well as the Visual Arts building. The work isn’t stopping there. The CSUB Capital & Facilities Management Services have also included drought-tolerant landscape in future renovation projects. “CSUB has an ongoing program where we remove grass and lawn from small areas where it is not being used for recreation and replace it with inert ground covers,” said Hedges and Sanchez. 

The university believes that the greenspaces on campus are very important to the student’s well-being and mental health. That is why the students were kept in mind while making the irrigation changes. Jennifer Sanchez Biedermann, energy and sustainability specialist, said, “When students congregate at greenspaces on campus, we observe that they use specific areas specifically areas that are shaded by trees.” 

Jennifer Sanchez Biedermann said, “At CSUB, a goal is to produce globally aware citizens. So, as an educational campaign, we believe that it’s very important for students to be aware of the importance of conservation and what’s happening on their campus.” 

Crewdson said that CSUB needs to be seen as doing water conservation right and effectively, as well as being seen as a good advocate for water conservation. According to Crewdson a water management plan must be in place not only for the campus but also in everyone else’s lives for real change to happen.  “A water management plan takes inventory of all of the water consumption that you’re responsible for, [which allows us] to look at ways that maximize our sustainability,” said Dr. Crewdson. 

CSU Bakersfield water use in centum cubic feet. Data provided by Jennifer Self.

All CSU campuses have made the commitment to reduce water usage by 10% by 2030. CSUB water use goal by 2030 is 157,182 centum cubic feet, which we are on-track to meeting, according to the factsheet by Hedges and Sanchez. The water conservation efforts that are in place are estimated to reduce water use by approximately 5%, which is 10,000 centum cubic feet of water per year.

Sanchez wants to make students aware that if they are to see water waste, specifically on campus, they can report it on CSUB Service Now by submitting photos of any the broken irrigation or leaks that they come across. 

To report water waste on campus, go to the Facilities Service Catalog on or to [email protected].