Branham’s effort to conserve during historic drought

Makayla Wu, Staff Writer

With California suffering its worst drought in nearly half a century, water conservation has become  more necessary. District officials say that they are doing their part, from changing their power washing protocols, to shortening time to water the fields.


From July 2020 to June 2020, San Jose collected a total of 5.33 inches, only 40% of the normal 13.48 inches. Residents are being asked to conserve water by 15%, but as of July, the San Jose Water company said that they’ve cut back by 6%.


Erik Wasinger, who is in charge of Facilities, Construction, Modernization and Safety for the district, has made sure schools water the sports fields less, to power wash schools less frequently, and update cleaning protocols to conserve water.


“We try to think methodically through construction and maintenance,” said Wasinger, “to make sure that we’re water conscious and make sure we don’t waste anything.”


For example he discouraged contractors working on the pool at Branham over the summer to avoid draining it completely, as they originally intended. 


“There’s no way I’m wasting 70,000 gallons of water,” he said.


Other changes include how long sinks stay for hand washing, and make sure urinals use less than a gallon per flush, instead of two or three, he said. CUHSD schools have low flush urinals and toilets, to make sure that they use less than a gallon per flush versus past years that used two or three gallons per flush. 


Additionally, Branham has installed drip irrigation, which uses two- to-three gallons per hour, instead of sprinklers that spray both plants and dirt.


Wasinger credited school janitors and the community for being supportive of the district’s water conservation measures. Less frequent power washing saves some water, but exposes gum, spills and footprints on the concrete.


In the community water conservation measures are also in place to ensure that residents are conserving water. Sophomore Tina Sinaki, whose dad works as the Santa Clara Valley Water District, it’s the small behaviors that her family’s changed little things.


They have also installed an Amphiro B1, a smart device that measures water consumption during showers.


They’ve been taking shorter showers and limiting faucet use when brushing their teeth and doing chores.


“We’ve been taking shorter showers,” said Sinaki, “Conserving water by not turning the faucet on for too long.”


With Santa Clara County officially in an exceptional drought, resident customers in the San Jose Water service area, which includes San Jose, Los Gatos and Campbell, are being asked down their water use by 15%. Limits on watering lawns and washing cars are in place. 


If the 15% goal is not reached, there is a possibility of a drought surcharge program which San Jose waters is currently developing. 


San Jose Water communications director Liann Walborsky, stressed the importance of conservation year-round.


“As a resident of California, you should always be concerned about water,” Walborsky said. “It’s always important to realize that conservation is critical, whether we’re in a good year or a bad year.”


Though higher-than-average rain is expected this month, bringing some relief to the state, Walborsky said that climate change means that California’s drought might persist. We shouldn’t let our guard down, she said.


“We can’t control mother nature,” she said, “but we can control our own behavior.”