Frequently asked questions about Stanford's water use reduction policy

Below are answers to frequently asked questions responding to the recent email from Faculty Staff Housing to campus residents regarding outdoor water use restrictions in effect as a result of the current drought:

I know we're in a drought, but what specifically prompted this current policy?

The State Water Resources Control Board recently released regulations to promote water conservation in the state. Information about their regulations can be found at:

How will this policy be enforced?

Residents are urged to be environmentally responsible and comply with the policy, and campus leadership is confident that even further water use reductions will be achieved; hopefully, the need for active enforcement will be avoided. If you see wasteful or excessive irrigating, please report it by calling (650) 723-2281.


What's the main campus doing about reductions?

In addition to what's described in the notice, campus landscape managers are also improving irrigation efficiencies while at the same time keeping recreational, athletics and social function areas in good shape for students, and the campus generally beautiful. While the focus of the policy is on potable water and the campus recreational fields are irrigated with non-potable water from our own surface and groundwater sources, conservation is still needed to preserve these supplies too, and reduced watering measures are being implemented.


Do I have to cut back watering my trees and ornamental shrubs too?

No, the two-day per week restriction applies only to lawn (turf); however, you are encouraged to reduce watering on trees, shrubs and ornamentals where you can without serious harm to the plants.


I'm out of town for the summer; what can I do?

Although the restrictions take effect on Aug. 1, enforcement will not begin until the start of the fall term, as we realize that many residents are away at this time.


Why is Stanford mandating that we reduce watering of lawn (turf) to only twice a week?

The new law allows water suppliers to either mandate two-day per week watering or achieve an equal reduction through an Alternative Means program. We have no such Alternative Means program, which is why we are following the prescriptive standard. When we developed our drought management plan several months ago we scoured all our domestic water systems in detail, looking for additional potential savings and identified barely 5 percent potential because so much has been done already over the past 10 years. Given this, we do not want to rely on voluntary measures to try and achieve a 10 percent reduction, especially without an Alternative Means plan to achieve it. While we are meeting the target thus far through voluntary measures, we are moving into the hottest, driest months and do not have confidence that we can sustain these savings without firm actions. Two-day per week watering is that tool since we have been unable to identify other firm measures that will total more than 5 percent water savings.