UCSB’s Water Action Plan: Conserving Today for Tomorrow


Courtesy of Bren Water Action Plan Group

Fresh water is a limited resource with several competing uses that pose an ever-increasing burden on water supplies. In California, water supply issues are magnified by the state’s growing population and semi-arid climate. In order to better prepare for current and future challenges regarding water supply, six students from the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management are working to produce a “Water Action Plan”(WAP) for University of California, Santa Barbara, which will also serve as their Master’s Thesis.

The WAP seeks to build upon the school’s historic water practices that have allowed the university to surpass California’s 20 percent water-use reduction mandate nine years in advance. The plan will examine UCSB’s historical and current water use data on the following water types: potable, non-potable, wastewater, stormwater, industrial, reclaimed, and graywater. The WAP Group has also collaborated with regional and university stakeholders to identify and evaluate strategies for water reduction and explore education and outreach opportunities pertinent to on-campus water conservation. Upon completion, the WAP will be implemented under the university’s University of California Sustainable Practices Policy; the guidance document will enable UCSB to minimize water usage while meeting growing demands of future water users.

As the first of its kind in the UC system, the UCSB WAP will be designed with transferability in mind. It will offer site-specific water conservation strategies for UCSB and additionally, will serve as a comprehensive template for external water action plans. The WAP Group acknowledges the wide range of water needs and uses across the UC System. From agricultural to hospital water demand, each UC faces its own water challenges, but underlying the differences between universities is a common goal: water conservation. The UCSB WAP will lay out a systematic approach to designing a water action plan with the ultimate goal of maximizing water conservation; regardless of each university’s individual challenges, the UCSB WAP will emphasize key components and analytic processes necessary to developing a thorough and thoughtful water action plan. The graduate students working on the project hope to facilitate collaboration within and among universities to encourage creativity and information sharing that will maximize water conservation efforts across the board.

Currently, the WAP Group is in the process of writing the plan. The WAP Group will be producing a document for their Bren School Master’s Thesis and a guidance document for UCSB. The WAP Group will defend their Thesis in late February and present the final report, which will be open to the public, in mid-April. More information about the project, group members and project deliverables can be found on the WAP Group’s website, http://www2.bren.ucsb.edu/~wateraction/.

Image Courtesy of  Bren Water Action Plan Group




  1. the WAP Group’s website is not working, I would like to view the project deliverables.

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