Sacramento State, one of the city’s largest water consumers, will get 521 new toilets that use a fraction of the water required by decades-old campus fixtures, President Alexander Gonzalez announced Thursday at his annual spring address.
“With California in the middle of another drought, water conservation has become a very hot topic in the state,” Gonzalez said. “Our campus has bathroom fixtures from the 1950s and ’60s, and these fixtures use more than double the water of current standards.”
In past years, Gonzalez used his spring speech to dwell on funding challenges due to state cutbacks. But with the state budget on the mend, Gonzalez focused this year on the $150,000 toilet replacement, plans for a 350-bed residence hall and the arrival of a new provost.
The old toilets use more than 4 gallons of water per flush, while the new ones will use just 1.28 gallons, said Daryn Ockey, director of facility operations for California State University, Sacramento. Older campus urinals use 3 gallons per flush and the new ones a half-gallon, he said.
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The new porcelain is courtesy of a rebate program through the city of Sacramento. The city will pay $78,000 of the $150,000 project, using money from Proposition 50, a bond for state water projects passed in 2002.
The project will more than ensure the 27,000-student university, which uses 325,000 gallons of water indoors each day, meets the new city requirement to reduce water consumption by 20 percent, said Ryan Geach, a conservation specialist with the city of Sacramento. He expects the project to serve as the “poster child” for the city’s conservation program.
The city has helped fund replacement projects at other Sacramento institutions in the past, including 500 toilets at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento about five years ago. The CSUS project, however, will use the last of the city’s Proposition 50 money.
“I’ll spare you the details, but I will say that for our campus, every flush counts,” Gonzalez said.
University officials are planning to hire a temporary plumber to help install all of the units by September.
Gonzalez also highlighted plans to build a new 350-bed residence hall on campus with a view of the American River. The hall, which will be configured in pods that each accommodate about 10 students, is expected to open in fall 2017.
Gonzalez discussed upcoming changes in state policy that will move away from funding campuses based on enrollment and reward them for graduating students in less time. In many ways, Gonzalez said, “We have already begun to make these changes.” He pointed to the effort to comply with the university system’s 120-unit cap, which is intended to discourage students from staying on campus longer than necessary to graduate.
The CSUS president also welcomed Frederika “Fraka” Harmsen as the new campus provost and vice president of academic affairs. Harmsen was named provost in December after serving as dean of the College of Natural Sciences and a professor of geology at Chico State.