By Jordan Hearne
Improving the sprinklers and the overall irrigation system across campus has been an ongoing project for the grounds department under facilities management.
Corsicana senior Randall Hollomon, limited allocations fund chair for student government, said that current sprinkler systems are “still not particularly good,” and he remembered a time where he passed a sprinkler head by the Student Union Building that was shooting out water “like a fountain.” Hollomon said bills concerning sprinkler issues have come in front of the Student Senate, saying things such as “water the grass, not the concrete.”
In an email to the Lariat, Don Bagby, director of facilities management, wrote that these problems are common of any plumbing system and could be caused by environmental forces.
“It could be damage or that the head is not positioned correctly,” Bagby wrote. “It could also be related to wind, runoff, etcetera.”
Bagby also said problems are managed by a full-time irrigator on campus, who maintains and repairs the several miles of irrigation lines and thousands of sprinkler heads. He said that if certain issues become too frequent for one person to manage, additional contractors are hired to assist in correcting the problem.
Bagby said one challenge in repairing sprinkler heads is being aware of when one is broken.
“Many times the automatic sprinklers come on, and unless there is someone around to notice problems, we don’t find out about it for several days,” Bagby said.
Smith Getterman, sustainability coordinator, said the grounds department have no way of immediately knowing when any one is broken or damaged.
The sustainability department and grounds department have created a partnership and have been using a new plan since the spring to help the campus irrigation system.
Getterman came up with the plan to more easily let the grounds department know about problems.
Students can report sprinkler heads in need of repair by taking photos of the problem and either emailing them to Smith_Getterman@baylor.edu or tweeting them to OsoGreen, a living and learning community immersed in global cultures and international opportunities.
This way, grounds and facilities can know exactly where a problem is and how to fix it. Getterman said that he has received 15 reports of problems since last spring.
Bagby said students can directly report a malfunctioning sprinkler by calling 710-1361.
Getterman said that the irrigation system at Baylor has made tremendous improvements over the years, and that from a sustainability standpoint, sprinkler systems are much less wasteful than when he attended the university as an undergraduate student.
“I can’t stand to think that we’ve been watering a sidewalk when people south of the border, like in Mexico, don’t have enough water to get through one day,” Getterman said. “It’s definitely moving in the right direction.”
Bagby said that the grounds department has attempted to conserve water in relation to the campus irrigation system, and waters the area at night when fewer students will be affected unless a day is particularly hot and dry.
“We do our best to water plants only when needed,” Bagby said. “We are constantly evaluating new products and systems that have the potential to more efficiently use the university’s resources.”