San Francisco Unified drops water consumption by 43 percent

Lyanne Melendez Image
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
SF Unified goes above and beyond to conserve water
When the San Francisco Unified School District was told to reduce their water usage by 10 percent, they went far beyond what anyone thought was possible.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Despite the recent heavy rain, Californians are still being called to conserve water. The San Francisco Unified School District did just that, and went far beyond what anyone thought possible.

The San Francisco PUC has told big organizations that if they want to use water for landscaping purposes, they have to reduce consumption by 10 percent from October to June 2015. Since that mandate, SF Unified has dropped its water consumption by 43 percent.

A lot of the water conservation has taken place in the gardens and other green areas at the schools within the district. Garden educator Sam Hartman has worked closely with students at San Francisco's Lincoln High School.

"When I came, they had this wonderful system set up," she said. "But it was leaking pretty badly. So we had to go through all the lines and one by one sort of check them out, turned off valves where we needed to."

Lincoln and other high schools have also shortened the watering time for their football fields.

Rick Maia is the lead gardener and oversees the landscaping at all 135 schools within the district.

"Ran irrigation tests and readjusted heads, replaced heads, replaced heads, changed nozzles," he said.

The school district also has rainwater cisterns at roughly 30 of their schools. The recent rains filled the cistern at Jefferson Elementary and the water is used for the garden.

A rainwater cistern is seen at Jefferson Elementary School in San Francisco, Calif. on Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015.

The district is doing more than just conserving water out in their green areas. Students who are part of Lincoln's Green Academy have taken it one step further.

"Their job is to educate their peers and in the sense of water conservation, they've given a presentation to grade level assemblies, talking about how their actions matter," said Green Academy teacher Valerie Ziegler.

Students are applying these conservation measures at home.

Student Chris Rodriguez adds, "At home I try to take shorter showers than usual. I try not to keep the tap on in unnecessary times, such as when I'm brushing my teeth."

San Francisco Unified has also been quick to fix leaks. That's just part of the effort to reduce their overall water usage.

Click here to check out our Bay Area water conservation resource page.