Water Sustainability at Scripps

CLAREMONT, California - August 25, 2014

Matt Hutaff

Platt Boulevard Restoration

Scripps College was looking to conserve natural resources long before Severe Drought warning signs popped up in California. Now those plans (and others) are coming to fruition this summer – and they’ll keep the campus beautiful at a fraction of the cost.

The most ambitious effort involves conserving water by simply reducing the amount of grass the College maintains. The lawns along Platt Boulevard, which divides the Scripps and Harvey Mudd College campuses, comprise 17,000 square feet of turf on three medians that is better served by native and drought tolerant plant materials.

“We are utilizing adapted, low water use plants and reducing plant areas,” says Lola Trafecanty, director of grounds. “The turf will be replaced by a planting of approximately 8,500 square feet of plants in mulch.”

Water savings alone make the project worthwhile; each of the dozens of sprinklers to be replaced currently sprays up to three gallons per minute.  But there are added benefits, too – the College will spend less in labor and fuel to keep the areas maintained, and water will no longer overflow onto the streets and damage the asphalt. All told, the conservation effort could save Scripps over $12,000 a year… and a state rebate program and infrastructure donations from Rainbird further reduce implementation costs.

“This project will not only conserve water, but it will also serve to educate us about the possibilities of using appropriate plant palettes for the native environment without sacrificing aesthetics,” adds Trafecanty. “The oak trees are native to the area and will grow with many generations to come.”

But maximizing water conservancy remains a primary concern for students, faculty, and staff.

“Scripps is the only college in the Consortium with isolated water meters for landscaping,” says Trafecanty. “They tell us exactly how much water we’re using and how we can increase our efficiency and date back to the 1980s when the College renovated its entire irrigation system to save water.

“We’re in this for the long run.”

Other campus improvement projects – including the construction of the Miller Wing addition to the Humanities Building, repairs to the Honnold Gate walkway and campus fountains, and the installation of central air conditioning in historic Clark residence hall – showcase the College’s commitment to environmental and fiscal stewardship as well as its dedication to preserving the campus’s status as one of the most beautiful places in Southern California.

Celebrate the Platt Avenue transformation with a community Fall planting party on Friday, September 26, from 2:30-5:00pm. Refreshments and snacks will be served for all volunteers.