Los Angeles, Water, and Harvey Mudd College An Evaluation of Water Use at Harvey Mudd College



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Los Angeles, Water, and Harvey Mudd College



An Evaluation of Water Use at Harvey Mudd College

Whitney Buchanan and Ben Tribelhorn

4 May 2007

An Integrative Experience under the advisement of

Theresa Lynn and Richard Haskell


Abstract:

As future leaders in the technical fields, many Harvey Mudd students are developing a commitment to sustainability. In parallel with student groups working on sustainability, we began an investigation of water use on the Harvey Mudd College campus and its impact, both financial and environmental. We present a history of water in Los Angeles and follow the water upstream in order to gauge the financial and environmental impacts. Within this context, we sought to find the distribution of water usage between academic, residential, dining and landscaping at Harvey Mudd College. Through estimates based on water billing data we found that within a 10% error range, the breakdown of end usage on campus is as follows: 15% academic, 21% residential, 3% dining, and 61% landscaping. As this is such a rough estimate we designed a system by which students can evaluate the efficiency of the fixtures in their living space as well as their own usage. During the course of our efforts, we proposed the installation of water meters on the academic cooling towers and on the dining hall to allow for future groups to complete a comprehensive campus-wide water audit. Finally, we motivate conservation efforts and continued focus on water issues by Harvey Mudd students.


Table of Contents


Table of Contents 3

List of Figures 4

List of Tables 5

1 Purpose and Scope 5

2 Los Angeles’ Water: The Triple Bottom Line 6

2.1 California’s Water 6

2.2 Where does our water come from? 7

2.2.1 Los Angeles’ First Imported Water: The Owens River Valley 8

2.2.2 Colorado River Water 11

2.2.3 California State Water Project 13

2.3 Costs of Our Water 14



3 What We’d Like to Know About Water at HMC 18

3.1 End Uses of Water 18

3.2 System and Components 20

4 What We Currently Know About Water at HMC 22

4.1 Total Water Usage 22

4.2 Campus Breakdowns 27

4.2.1 Landscaping 28

4.2.2 Academic Use 29

4.2.3 Dining Hall Use 32

4.2.4 Residential Use 33

4.2.5 Landscaping Use Revisited 35

4.2.6 Final Estimated Breakdown 36

5 On-Going Results and Future Work 37

5.1 Daily Per Person Usage 37

5.2 Recommendations to Refine Resolution of End Uses 39

5.3 New Information Resources 40

5.4 What about those Flush-Less Urinals? 41

5.5 Preliminary Look at the Feasibility of a Cistern System 41

5.6 Future Work Recommendations 42

Acknowledgements 44

Appendix A: California Native Plants Used on Harvey Mudd Campus 45

Appendix B: Water Audit Form 46

Appendix C: Shower Time Audit Form 47

References 48


List of Figures





Figure 2.1: Mean annual precipitation, 1961-1990[Error: Reference source not found]. 7

Figure 2.2: William Mulholland at approximately 50 years of age []. 9

Figure 2.3: St. Francis Dam before and after the collapse. The center portion that remained standing was referred to as the ‘Tombstone’ []. 10

Figure 2.4: Map of the California State Water Project facilities []. 14

Figure 4.5: Historical plot of total campus-wide water usage from 1993 through present, as determined from billing data. 23

Figure 4.6: The updated schematic of water lines and meters for the HMC campus. 24

Figure 4.7: An overlay of meter locations and buildings served on a satellite photo of HMC's Campus. 24

Figure 4.8: Sketch of landscaping on the Atwood Dorm meter 26

Figure 4.9: Historical data for N. Mills Line. Note the peak that corresponds with the peak in total campus usage. 27

Figure 4.10: The red line is the total water use since 2001 with the Eckert, Sparks, Chen lab water removed. The blue line is the total water used by the campus for reference. It should be noted that the use by the Eckert, Sparks, Chen lab is of the same order as the peak due to the construction of Sontag dorm. 32

Figure 4.11: Preliminary results from water audit kits. Not every dorm is represented and only a few points have been collected from each dorm. 35

Figure 4.12 Left: Current total campus breakdown. Right: Total campus breakdown sans Eckert, Sparks, Chen lab 36

Figure 5.13: Average yearly precipitation in Los Angeles, Death Valley, Berlin, and New York City. The red line indicates the official desert line of 250mm. 38

List of Tables


Table 4 1 Estimates for Academic Restroom Use 31

Table 4 2 Estimates for Academic Lab Use 31

Table 4 3 Estimates of Dining Hall Usage 33

1Purpose and Scope

This document has been prepared as a summary of a semester of work looking at water use at Harvey Mudd College. It is intended to serve both as a record of the knowledge gathered, and as a jumping off point for continuation of this work. It is hoped that information garnered through this project may eventually be used to make informed decisions regarding water conservation efforts on campus.

The goal of the project was two-fold. Firstly, we examined the history of water in the Claremont and wider Los Angeles areas in order to put in perspective all of the costs of this resource. And secondly, we wanted to evaluate water usage at HMC, primarily to determine what the end uses of our water are. We wanted to be able to break HMC's total water use into its components: residential, academic, dining, and landscaping uses. However, it quickly became clear that this evaluation was a non-trivial task as metering for water existed only at the aggregate level for the campus. The majority of the work has been to put systems into place by which reasonable estimates of this division of end uses may be determined.

Information gained from this work and the continuation of it should allow HMC to make changes that will have a significant effect on its water usage in the future and not spend time and effort on changes that will have a minimal effect on water usage on campus.



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