College students spread drought awareness through humor

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ByDavid Louie KGO logo
Thursday, April 23, 2015
College students spread drought awareness through humor
College campuses are pitching in to meet the water cutbacks imposed by the state and they're doing it with humor and with technology.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- Happy Earth Day! Some students at Santa Clara University decided to celebrate Earth Day by taking shorter showers. They gave a lesson on how to take a Navy shower.

Some students admit they take 5-10 minute showers, but as part of Earth Day, students were asked to cut their showers by 60 seconds less to help with the drought. Student Alec Kwo cast aside modesty to demonstrate a water-saving Navy shower. Students were asked to sign a pledge banner.

"Once they sign it, they get to take home a blue wristband that they could be wearing in the shower and it will prompt them to remember to take 60 seconds off your shower," Cara Uy, university campus sustainability coordinator, said.

The shower demonstration was a good way to bring attention to the drought to students who don't get a monthly bill or monitor their usage.

"It's all about awareness and knowing how long you're showering. I think something like this is raising that awareness for people," junior Tom Wheeler said.

However, over at UC Santa Cruz, technicians are installing 400 devices that will give students and faculty their water use on a daily basis -- delivered right to their smartphone or computer screen. It represents a $48,000 investment on a campus that is in its second year of a 25 percent water use cutback. The device sends usage data by cell signals. Before, the data was compiled monthly.

"By providing information to the students, not just on their own dorm's usage, but also the other dorms' usage, I think it'll create a competitive environment," Patrick Testoni, campus energy manager, said.

The UC Santa Cruz system can also detect potential leaks. Testoni said, "We're also using these cellular endpoint systems on our faculty housing and our science labs, too, because they're heavy users of water, too, and there's a lot of behavioral decisions that can be made in faculties' homes and in the science labs that an really impact how much water is used on the campus."

The system is the first to be deployed at any UC campus and could serve as a model for others.

For water rebate information from Bay Area water suppliers, click here. And click here for tips on how to conserve. To learn more about how to report water wasters #WhereYouLive, click here.

For full coverage on the drought, click here.