How much water is wasted on watering?

Noelle Ullery is a first-year economics major. She is an intern for the Newswire from St. Louis.

When I tell people I’m a first-year, they always ask me how I’m doing and if I’m enjoying Xavier. It’s refreshing that my peers want to know how I’m doing, but at the same time, these types of questions tend to miff me. I answer with my usual response while I smile, “It’s going well! It’s stressful, but I’m used to that.”

I try to put a positive twist on it, but I want to keep it real at the same time. Is anyone really going to admit what they don’t like about Xavier? Honestly, I’d like to talk about how long the pasta station line is or my skepticism as to if the WiFi is ever going to work, but so does everyone. After only being here five and a half weeks, though, something I’ve noticed that seems to be unchallenged by the student population is the sprinkler system.

The sprinklers seem to be running constantly. When I leave my dorm to go to class in the morning, the sprinklers are on. The water lands on the grass but also splatters onto the concrete, and I have to be careful that I don’t get wet. If the sprinklers are on the left side, I’m forced to walk on the right, praying that the sprinklers won’t automatically turn on the side I’m walking on.

After I leave class and head to lunch, I pass the sprinklers watering the lawns, again. There are more people out by this time, so I really have to watch where I’m walking to avoid being hit by anyone or getting wet with the unnecessary shower.

And at midnight, after getting a milkshake from Blue Blob’s Diner, I walk back to my dorm in Buenger Hall and notice the sprinkler system on yet again. It’s very dark out, but I manage to find a path of dry concrete to avoid getting wet.

 I haven’t kept a record of how many times I see the sprinkler system working each day. Even if they are not on three times a day, seven days a week, they seem to be running unnecessarily a lot of the time.  According to the United States EPA WaterSense program, as high as 50% of water used for irrigation is wasted because of inefficient irrigation methods and systems. One of these inefficiencies is watering too often and watering at the wrong time of day. In turn, tons of money and water is wasted, water that could be utilized elsewhere.

Don’t get me wrong, maintaining the lawns and grounds is important for a campus like Xavier. Since it is small, the university has to utilize its space and make it look pretty. In fact, when I visited Xavier, I was drawn to the physical appearance of campus and its well-kept landscaping. Appearances are important for drawing in students and the overall feel for the campus. I get it; no student wants to walk by dead grass and weeds.

However, the look of campus needs to reflect the reality we’re living in. The truth is that water waste is a contributing factor to the current climate state. We as a community should prioritize the delicate state of the environment — and that starts right here in our own home, or yard in this case.

While I may not understand all the reasons for why the sprinkler system is on so frequently, having a fresh set of eyes gives me an awareness to an issue that should be addressed. It has conceivably been done the same way for years, and maybe our class could be the one to change the system.

Am I enjoying Xavier? The short answer: yes. The long and real answer, though, is that I’d like to see some changes.  But I already have a sense of the community and love for Xavier. I want to make changes to this campus because I want to improve the place I call home. And for that, I will continue to voice my opinion and try to better Xavier as a whole.