Campus water use attracts criticism

Stockton Unified School District works to reduce water, fix problems amid drought regulations

The sight of sprinklers watering front lawns and grass fields should be commonplace in June. However, Stagg High School has received criticism from The Record’s environmental reporter Alex Breitler for not only watering the campus’ front lawns on the wrong day of the week, designated by California’s drought laws, but within 48 hours of rainfall.

According to California water regulations, watering is only allowed to odd-numbered addresses on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Stagg, located on 1621 Brookside Road, was found watering last Wednesday, on the same day when rain fell for about 3 hours.

“Last year we reduced our water use by 19 percent,” says the Stockton Unified School District Facilities Director Steve Breakfield. This year, the district is trying to find ways to reduce water spending even more. One way, says Breakfield, is by turning on the irrigation systems in May instead of in March, the time they turned them on last year.

Breakfield does say there has been one issue on Stagg’s campus. The grass soccer field by McGaw and Rosemarie had required a lot of watering to maintain “a certain moisture content so that the seeds could germinate.” Last month, the field needed to be re-seeded.

Breakfield says that “the problem with Stagg” is that an automatic system controls the watering. “We have gone in to adjust the new watering days,” says Breakfield, referring to the days in place by drought laws. The system is measured by a weather station, which keeps track of conditions to determine when the fields need watering. According to Breakfield, the system did not turn off last Wednesday because the ground was still too dry, even though it did rain.

In April, a sprinkler in the west parking lot was broken, shooting the water upward and onto concrete. Breakfield says that in a case such as that, where something on campus needs repair, faculty from the campus must issue a work order through the maintenance department to the district. “The site is the first line of defense,” Breakfield said. “We don’t know there’s something wrong until they tell us.” With a broken pipe, Breakfield said that the district would send someone immediately to fix it.

“Unfortunately it’s some of these little issues we see that people call about,” Breakfield says. He maintains that it’s a good thing for people to point out these things, as the district is not always aware. What most don’t know, he says, are the lengths the district goes to reduce water, cutting down to about 20 percent. “Unfortunately it’s the mistakes they see.”

With the record-breaking drought becoming more extreme as the year rolls into summer, these incidents of wasted water won’t go unnoticed.