ASU Implementing Drought Measures
May 10, 2012
The amount of rain as well as the daily temperature highs from June through August will largely determine how much change people will see in the campus lawns and vegetation, said Jay Halbert, ASU’s director of facilities management.
“If we get more rains and the temperatures hover around 97-98 degrees, we may be okay,” Halbert said, “but if it’s a dry summer with temperatures above 100, the campus will suffer and we will lose landscaping.”
Like the rest of the city, ASU went on Stage II water restrictions May 1. Drought Level II water restrictions are imposed by the City of San Angelo when the city has less than and 18-month water supply. The restrictions allow landscape watering just once a week and impose additional water usage fees on customers.
“We are proud of our campus and how well we have maintained and sustained our grounds in a semi-arid environment,” Halbert said. “However, the ongoing drought is challenging all residents of San Angelo to reduce water usage and conserve water for essential needs. We will be doing our part as good neighbors, even though it may take a toll on campus.”
Hal Peter, associate director of special services-grounds/custodial, said the priorities for grounds water usage would be recently established landscaping around new buildings and the athletic fields. Various options are being considered for the athletic fields, particularly the football practice fields, to deal with the impact of limited irrigation. Other areas on campus have already been placed on reduced watering schedules.
Peter said if the City of San Angelo implements Stage III drought level, the fountain at the Junell Center will be drained and a variance will be required to keep the ASU swimming pool operational for academic programs. Drought Level III also prohibits all outside watering.
Halbert said budget cuts have limited the university’s flexibility in dealing with grounds maintenance as the application of pre-emergent was eliminated and plantings of new flowers were reduced this spring as budget savings measures. He noted that Stage II usage fees would require an additional $150,000 just to maintain the level of campus irrigation that was required last summer with its long string of 100-degree-plus days.
“Even if the water were available,” Halbert said, “we could no longer afford to do what we did last summer. We will be taking a hit on the grounds this summer, not that we want to, but that is the reality of our situation.”
Halbert said his office will be placing signs around campus on areas that will be affected by the reduction in irrigation to make the campus community aware of the situation.
“We want people to understand that we are following drought contingencies and are trying to do our part to help ease the water shortage,” Halbert said. “Unfortunately, the results will show as we lose landscaping on various sections of campus.”