TU Conserves Water While Maintaining Expensive Landscape

Wednesday, August 1st 2012, 6:47 pm
By: Emory Bryan

The University of Tulsa is doing its part to help the city cut down on water usage by planning to conserve water every day.

One of the challenges during a time of water rationing is figuring out how to maintain a landscape without wasting water. At TU, they think they've figured out a way to do that.

TU has spent millions of dollars on landscape improvements that depend on water.

While the campus is 100 years old, much of the landscaping is new—planted within the last 15 years.

That means they require more water during dry weather.

John Wood, with TU's Physical Plant said, "It takes a lot of water. We do it as conservatively as we can."

7/31/2012 Related Story: Tulsa's Biggest Water Users Prepare To Make Sacrifices

TU's water conservation plan started with plants chosen for the ability to stand up to the heat with the least amount of water.

The most expensive part of the landscape gets the most attention.

Each of the 3500 trees on campus has a buried, drip irrigation system that delivers water right where it's needed.

"We find that's one of the best practices for trees and for flowerbeds, because it doesn't lose water to evaporation," Wood said.

The campus has two large fountains, but none of that water goes down the drain.

"And both of those fountains re-circulate the water," Wood said. "Some is lost to evaporation, but not a lot because the water is treated and re-pumped again."

For the big patches of lawn, the only way to water is with big sprinklers.

TU does that only at night.

In addition to what's been done already, TU said there is another way they can save money and water. They are planning a weather monitoring system that will control the irrigation system so it only delivers water when it is absolutely needed.