Scripps Forms Water Task Force

In response to the extreme drought in Southern California, a group of Scripps College students formed the Scripps Water Task Force (SWTF) alongside the Scripps Grounds Department to educate the Scripps community about water issues, encourage students to report broken sprinklers and leaks, and put pressure on the administration to approve water conservation projects. 

“Water is
a finite resource,” SWTF founder Jessica Ng SC ’15 said. “Especially in Southern California, we do not have much water
and we have to use what we have responsibly.”

SWTF member Nikki Chen SC ’15 said that it is easy for students to overlook the situation. 

“Claremont kind of hides the effects of the
drought because it is still so green,” she said.

SWTF met Feb. 10 to discuss plans to place timers in showers, create a student campaign to report broken
sprinklers across campus, and draft an email to Scripps President Lori Bettison-Varga about removing grass and upgrading sprinklers.  

“We want to encourage the administration to allow Grounds to do the grass removal,” SWTF member Lauren Mitten SC ’15 said. 

According to an email to the Scripps student body, the Scripps Grounds Department is waiting for administrative approval to remove grass in certain areas of Scripps’ campus. To add or maintain lawns, the ground is often over-seeded, which increases water consumption.  

“These specific patches of grass are not useful or particularly pretty,” SWTF member Annemieke Ruina SC ’15 said.

SWTF also hopes to help the Grounds
Department gain additional funding for irrigation upgrades, which are set to begin in July. The department has secured half the necessary funding but needs additional money to complete the project, according to a Feb. 6 letter from the task force. 

Scripps Director of Grounds Lola Trafecanty wrote in an email to TSL that Scripps has already made efforts to reduce water consumption on
campus. For example, the college has removed lawn in areas such as the main entrance to campus on Ninth Street and Columbia Avenue. 

In 2008, Scripps decided not to over-seed
the athletic field during the winter months, allowing the Bermuda grass to go
dormant during the winter. The Grounds Department has also installed a computerized central irrigation system, which is based on
evapotranspiration rates. Since the early 1990s, the system has helped the college use water more efficiently.

Trafecanty encouraged students to take action on an individual level.

“Students could also reduce their
shower times by 10-20%, not let the water run while they are brushing their
teeth, use full loads of laundry for washing of clothes, and simply being our
extra eyes and reporting anything out of the norm,” she wrote. 

The Scripps Grounds Department will be hosting a water conference workshop on March 1 in Garrison Theater. 

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