Summer’s Over, WAC — So, Turn Off the Sprinklers!
Walking to class from the Western Shore or River dorms has recently turned into a swampy, puddle-jumping mess. Huge puddles, created from lawn sprinklers, block the walkways and ruin many people’s mornings and shoes.
Not only are these sprinklers an annoyance to students, but they are wasting water, creating unnecessary flooding, and ultimately harming our campus soil.
The sprinklers seem to be active for most of the morning, sometimes going from 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m., which is excessive. Even on nights when there are long rain storms, the sprinklers are still running the next morning—simply unnecessary!
In general, sprinkler systems are unsustainable because the water is often evaporated before it even hits the ground and you cannot control exactly where the water is going. Sprinklers use up so much water and often lead to overwatering, thus waterlogging the plants. In addition, the sprinklers seem to be watering the sidewalks more than the grass, and this creates a breeding ground for mosquitoes!
A sustainable alternative to the sprinkler would be a drip irrigation system that used rainwater, collected as runoff, to directly water the ground. In addition, integrating a diverse group of deep-rooted plants into our campus landscape would help absorb water.
Our current turf grass has almost no root system, so the water simply runs off into the walkways.
While I understand that every college campus wants to maintain a clean and aesthetically pleasing greenscape, Washington College is falling into one of the great American obsessions of creating an unnatural grass lawn.
Washington College prides itself on its Chesapeake Bay studies, environmental advocacy, and sustainable on-campus groups, yet we are actively wasting water and degrading the campus’ soil by using this sprinkler watering system.
Nicole Hatfield, junior