Though St. George is considered one of the driest areas in the nation, it’s important to have a landscape that is green, comfortable, beautiful and eco-friendly.
Using approximately 109 million gallons of water on campus per year, administrators at Dixie State University strive to provide that welcoming environment for residents, students and visitors.
This amount of water is used not only in the landscape at DSU, but also for amenities such as drinking fountains and bathrooms. Though this water supply is distributed through many corners of campus, it may still seem like an enormous amount of water usage.
According the Environmental Protection Agency under Water Sense, the average household of four uses 400 gallons of water per day with about 70 percent used indoors and 30 percent outdoors. Is water really being overused on DSU’s campus? No; there are approximately 9,000 students and faculty using 109 million gallons of water per year. Breaking that usage to 365 days a year students and faculty only use approximately thirty three gallons of water per day.
The landscape at DSU could be a change in the way DSU uses its water. Members of the Sustainability Committee agree that DSU could reduce the amount of water and energy by creating a more desert friendly landscape. Tracey O’Kelly, advisor of the Sustainability Committee, proposed changes that could reduce the amount of water used on the landscape. Her ideas include less open or wasted grass area, more mulch, shade trees and rocks.
“We are willing to help and support (Campus Landscape Supervisor) Debra Roth-Carillo in whatever ways we can,” O’Kelly said.
Roth-Carillo said she is sensitive to the concerns of living in an area with limited water resources, yet she sees the need for having an aesthetically pleasing campus for students and residents in St. George. She said students and locals enjoy the open grass areas for big events and downtime.
“We use river water running from the mountains to water our landscape; it is not culinary water,” Roth-Carillo said. “The campus took polls after polls after polls, and the students like the open space the campus provides.’’
Roth-Carillo said it was decided that putting grass around the buildings was the most economical direction. This way, when future plans follow through to expand DSU’s campus it will be an easier transition to expand and build more buildings.
Ground supervisors, energy control managers and staff are working on conserving water at DSU with plans to install an irrigation system that will help save the amount of water being used for the landscape, Roth-Carillo said. This is already installed in about half of the water system and continues to help these circumstances.
We at DSU enjoy the green landscape. If too many changes toward a desert landscape are made to DSU’s campus, fewer students will enjoy being on campus and having those areas where we can appreciate the grass and green campus.