As students walk along campus they can’t help but take in the beauty around. Perhaps their eyes wander to the picturesque mountains in the west or the stately evergreens that dot the green, grassy landscape — a striking contrast to lawns around the state.
CSU is able to continue to water the grass due to its use of raw water.
Raw water is untreated water found in a pond, lake, or river. The water consumed in households has been treated with chlorine, potassium permanganate and other chemicals to destroy bacteria.
According to the Water FAQ provided by www.softwater.com, raw water obtained from surface water (lakes, rivers, streams,) is generally lower in mineral content than ground water, another alternative to municipal water. However, raw water might have been exposed to pesticides, insecticides, animal waste, or even industrial waste.
While drinking raw water is a bad idea, using it to water lawns and trees is a novel concept. CSU has been using raw water on campus since the 1960s, according to John Morris, manager of facilities operations at CSU.
CSU pipes in water from College Lake, a subsidiary of the Horsetooth Reservoir. That water is used for the lawns, trees, and bushes throughout campus.
Use of raw water for campus irrigation is much more cost-effective than piping in chemically treated water. Last year, utilizing untreated water saved CSU over $300,000.
Looking at the plush lawns that grace the campus, it’s hard to believe that the West is being bombarded by one of the worst droughts in history. According to Fort Collins Utilities, the two main sources of the city’s water, the Poudre River and the Colorado Big Thompson Project, are at their lowest levels in recorded history.
The lack of moisture and the excessive temperatures this summer have been the basis for voluntary and mandatory water restrictions throughout Colorado. Fort Collins imposed a mandatory lawn watering restriction at the end of July. CSU is not required to follow those restrictions due to its use of raw water. However, CSU has voluntarily chosen to comply with those restrictions, Morris said.
CSU is on top of water conservation during this period of drought. Fred Haberecht, CSU landscape architect, said CSU decreased watering by 10 percent before any restrictions were put into motion. Since that time, CSU has voluntarily conformed to the standards of Fort Collins. CSU waters each zone of its lawns twice a week at night.