Chico State University is the second oldest university that makes up the California college system and is located in one of the driest areas of the state. In the past few years, they have taken a number of steps to respond to ongoing California’s drought by finding innovative ways to cut back on water use.

Facility managers have found that updating restroom fixtures is key to conserving water. “This includes replacing older faucet aerators with new ones that use only half the amount of water,” says Bob Francis, Lead Plumber for Facilities Management and Services at Chico State.

The university is also replacing old toilets and urinals to reduce water consumption. New toilets use 1.6 gallons per flush, compared to the older ones, which used as much as 4.5 gallons per flush. Old urinals used a gallon of water or more, but newer ones being installed at Chico use only one pint of water or, taking water efficiency a step further, are completely waterless.

The university selected waterless urinals manufactured by Waterless Co. Inc. Waterless Co. is the oldest and one of the largest manufacturers of waterless urinals in the U.S. Waterless Co. products can be found in many public facilities, such as schools and other universities, as well as hotels, office buildings, even in homes.

Outside the restrooms, the university has found another way to conserve water: by making major changes to how it irrigates landscaped areas. Older spray heads have been replaced with more efficient rotating heads that deliver a much smaller amount of water. A smart irrigation system measures evaporation, humidity, and temperature and sets watering times automatically. This ensures irrigation is performed only when needed; for example, if it is raining, the system turns itself off completely.

“This is a reflection of some very effective steps all kinds of facilities can take to help reduce water consumption,” says Klaus Reichardt of Waterless Co. “It’s in restrooms and landscaped areas where most facilities’ consume most of their water and those are the two areas we must target.”