New water conservation plan being embraced by Merced College

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- Brown grass has become a badge of honor in the eyes of many people during the drought and Merced College is now wearing its proudly.

Professor of Horticulture Bryan Tassey said, "There's a map that we're just literally going to shut off water to key areas and the function of lawn in my opinion is if you're not walking on it, there's really no function."

Last year the campus only managed to cut its water usage by less than six percent, so now it's taking more drastic measures to meet the state mandate of 36 percent. Horticulture Professor Bryan Tassey helped come up with ideas to meet that goal.

Tassey said, "Roughly 25 percent of our savings is going to come from landscape, so it's how do we go about doing that."

Some areas are getting makeovers, including a section where the lawn was removed as part of a class project. Students installed a drip irrigation system and added plants that use minimal water.

Tassey added, "This particular project is the reason why I became a teacher because it's hands on learning which is really exciting, the other thing is students get to see the end result of what they've designed and figured out."

Tassey says interior parts of the campus will remain green to make sure they're still inviting for students, staff, and other community members. But they also have drought resistant plants, like these.

"The neat thing is you can see a lot of different diversity of color combinations of leaves of flowers, you can still get things to bloom," said Tassey. "You can still get different textures and things like that."

Students Action News spoke with say they welcome the changes.

Thanya Ryland said, "Yeah the lawn might turn brown, but I'm perfectly fine with that, it's just looks, so help save that water."

The campus also plans to upgrade its old irrigation equipment and eventually add a computerized central control system to monitor all of its water in one place. But those will require additional funding.

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