By Natalie Camrud '17Staff Writer
Southern California has always been known for its sunny skies and arid climate. But lately things have been a little too dry, and at this point everybody is wishing for a rainy day. 2013 was the driest year on record for California, and so far 2014 is no different. On January 17, Governor Jerry Brown officially declared California in a drought state of emergency. The lack of rain and subsequent drought has led to rampant wildfires that have come as close to the 5C’s as Glendora and Orange County. Everyone at Scripps, myself included, loves the bright green grass covering our campus, but a little twinge of guilt goes through me whenever I hear the sprinklers go off in the morning or when I see the marshy puddles of excess water by the sidewalk. Scripps Associated Student (SAS) Sustainability Chair Leah Hochberg wrote to The Scripps Voice that certain areas “are over-seeded to ensure that they remain green year-round” so that they are presentable for events like Commencement and Alumnae Weekend and create that distinctive, vibrant green covering the Scripps campus. “These areas are watered during the day in the beginning of the semester so the new seeds will sprout,” continued Hochberg. “But once the grass begins to grow, the watering schedule reverts to its usual nightly operation.” She added that sprinkler use during the day is often to check whether the sprinklers are functional. The Director of Grounds Lola Trafecanty is aware of the issues surrounding water conservation, and has recommended lawn removal at a few areas of the Scripps campus and adding drought tolerant plants to the proposed areas. This would be a great way to cut back on water usage while also maintaining the beautiful landscaping that students love. The lawn between GJW and Kimberly has already been removed, and since hundreds of people walk there every day the grass probably would have died out on its own. According to Trafecanty, the central irrigation system at Scripps was installed in the 1990’s. Upgrades are underway to make the irrigation more sustainable and efficient but are not expected to be finished until this summer. In the meantime, a conference addressing this issue is coming to Scripps later this semester. The American Institute for Progressive Democracy will be at Scripps on March 1. The Institute is bringing together 11 speakers from the 5Cs and southern California to address water issues. The keynote speaker will be Peter Gleick from the Pacific Institute, and all students are encouraged to attend this event. Until then, there are many small things that students can do to help conserve water, like not letting the water run while you brush your teeth and reporting broken sprinklers, which cause those egregious puddles of water, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Even cutting back on our water usage a little bit would help the state of California and uphold Scripps’s value of integrity and social responsibility.