SAN DIEGO, Calif. — San Diego State University is one of the top “drought-endangered” campuses in the country based on its size and location by a lawn-care website urging water conservation.

LawnStarter posted a list of 12 campuses and named SDSU No. 10 among schools that face the challenge of maintaining a large campus in an area facing a drought. The 419-acre UCLA campus topped the list. SDSU’s campus is 283 acres.

The list was compiled by finding the largest campuses in states with exceptional or extreme droughts. Data on droughts came from the National Drought Monitor, and only schools with NCAA Division I football programs are included because those were likely to be among the largest.

Tom Abram, assistant director of the facilities services department charged with campus sustainability at SDSU, said the school has made significant efforts to cut back its water use. The water bill in June, for instance, was 43 percent lower than June of 2014, the July water bill was 30 percent less and the August bill was down 48 percent.

“We developed a drought-action plan last year,” he said. “One of the recommendations was to hire a landscape services manager, something we haven’t had in about a decade.”

The school didn’t dig up plants or let lawns die, but rather found a way of caring for them more efficiently, he said. Sprinkler heads were upgraded, soil was aerated and mulch was added in some place to keep water from evaporating. In other steps, the school is looking at more efficient ways to water trees and is planting more drought-resistant plants in areas being developed or refurbished, he said.

 

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