recycled water irrigation

When California and San Diego mandated several water use restrictions last summer, Resource Management and Planning responded by stopping water leaks within 72 hours of notification, limiting watering hours and mandating use of recirculating pumps for decorative water fountains. UC San Diego also identified 352,000 square feet of turf for conversion to low/no-water-use landscape using drought-tolerant plants and groundcover. Once all areas are converted, the campus will save approximately 9 million gallons per year.

The campus Climate Action Plan calls for a minimum 4% increase in water conservation annually. New campus plans will accelerate this goal in order to achieve City of San Diego drought goals. See Taking Action Against the Drought.

Recycled Water Irrigation

With each new construction project, we install landscape recycled water piping. Approximately 30% of campus irrigation uses recycled water. We also:

  • Retrofitted nearly 7,900 standard sprinklers with high-efficiency rotating nozzles, saving 10 million gallons and $82,000 per year
  • Use computer-controlled irrigation systems that adjust watering based on temperature and humidity and save an additional 55 million gallons annually
  • Monitor soil moisture to target irrigation
  • Expanding recycled water distribution throughout campus


Planting low-water-use, native, and drought-tolerant plants in 75% of the irrigated campus landscape has greatly reduced campus water use. Environmentally sensitive landscape management also improves water and soil quality, promotes biological diversity and lessens our environmental impact.


UC San Diego is conserving water by retrofitting existing buildings with low-flow devices and installing low-flow fixtures in residence halls.

UC San Diego is investigating pumping seawater from La Jolla Canyon, a deep off-shore trench, through a closed-loop system to help cool campus buildings. Water will then be returned to the sea. Seawater, a clean renewable energy source, could offset up to 4 megawatts of energy and potentially saving 100 million gallons of water annually.

Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

More than 76% of our cleaning products are “Green Seal Certified.” These environmentally friendly products protect worker health and safety while improving the quality of our gray water.

Storm Water Management

UC San Diego's Storm Water Management Program helps prevent water pollution and keep our beaches clean by eliminating dry weather flow discharges and measurably reducing harmful pollutants (heavy metals, organics, bacteria, and sediment) in urban and stormwater runoff into the ocean. Source and site controls include:

  • Wash racks, dry weather flow diversions, and sewer connections to eliminate the discharge of non-stormwater runoff into storm drains
  • Pollution prevention controls for outdoor material storage areas
  • Roof runoff, erosion, and sediment control mechanisms
  • Innovative ecology embankment/media filter systems