What A Lovely Brick Garden: 1.25 Gallons Per Minute

By Amanda Anastasia
Elm Staff Writer

Stepping onto campus this semester, it is impossible to miss the tremendous effort Buildings and Grounds (B&G) has put into beautifying the campus. From the greenness of the grass to the large number of new plants now decorating the entirety of the southern row of Western Shore dorms, our campus looks as if the perfection of a college brochure picture actually depicts what daily life looks like here.

What price, however, do we pay for such an appearance? At 4 p.m. on a drizzly Sunday afternoon, eight sprinklers were watering the grassy area East of Hodson Hall. Five minutes prior, a number of sprinklers stopped spraying the grass on the south side of Hodson after running for at least three hours in drizzling weather. Sprinklers from these areas frequently spray directly onto the bricks during their oscillations.

Furthermore, a significant amount of the water that does make it onto the lawns runs off onto the bricks in nice streams, especially at the eastern-most end of the Cater Walk.

Washington College prides itself on being “green.” According to the Center for Environment & Society’s (CES) webpage describing the President’s Climate Action Committee, “WC has undertaken numerous actions already in its effort to reduce its carbon footprint. Among these … [are] using re-useable inter-office envelopes for campus mail….” With such bold steps being taken, our campus cannot possibly have a large carbon footprint. Right?

With a struggling recycling program run by only four people attempting to service at least 1,800 individuals, four new buildings that likely do not fulfill a 2007 Board of Visitor’s and Governor’s policy to meet LEED Silver standards, and at least 1.25 gallons being dispelled by each sprinkler every minute they run, it is hard to believe that anyone in an administrative position on campus can feel confident calling our campus environmentally friendly. (By the way, that equates to 75 gallons per hour per sprinkler.)

It would be unfair to criticize without offering some sort of solution. In regard to the sprinkler situation, a simple yet effective way to reduce waste would be to turn on the sprinklers in the early morning, around 3 or 4 a.m. This allows water to actually soak into the topsoil, instead of just evaporating off of the lawn. In doing so, we could avoid the need to have sprinklers watering the grass for hours on end, which can ultimately lead to water buildup above ground. When water is allowed to sit around on the surface of the ground, it provides an opportunity for fungi and mold to grow, which is not good for a lawn or for sunbathing college students.

Don’t get me wrong here–CES has been doing a great job in getting the ball rolling in terms of bringing environmental awareness to this campus. It is now time, however, for WC to step up to the plate and finish the jobs that CES has been doing in its stead.

These problems are not difficult to fix, but they will continue to not be addressed so long as the administration gets the impression that we don’t mind. If you have a problem on campus and your parents start calling, you can bet your bottom dollar that it will be addressed. If every parent made a similar call regarding the gross waste of water that is the irrigation system on campus, or the amount of energy that is wasted by unnecessary lighting, or the recycling only being taken out every two weeks, it is hard to imagine that the college would not change its policies. Or, better yet, what if students were the ones who did the calling? Would the school not care about the voices of the people who most influence the parents who write the tuition checks?

Let’s hope that the WC student body demonstrates to the new president that we want “George Goes Green” to be more than just words on a page.

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