The city of Ithaca, New York nearly doubled in population this month when Cornell University and Ithaca College began their fall semester.  With much of the City (as well as the state) in severe drought, the two institutions decided to take action and conserve as much water as possible. Despite the sudden influx of students, Cornell and Ithaca College are doing their part to make the transition as smooth as possible by issuing water restrictions as well as implementing reclaimed water strategies.
Using an estimated 550 million gallons per year, Cornell set a water reduction goal of 30% in July 2016.  Along with Ithaca College, Cornell has ceased water use for vehicle and pressure washing activities and has also asked students to reduce water use as much as possible.  According to the Cornell University website, if each resident at Cornell uses one less gallon per day, it would conserve 1.5 million gallons a month.  Sara Brylinsky, sustainability communications and integration manager at Cornell, said in an article in the Ithaca Journal, “The focus we’ve been taking is reducing the water demand on campus, both on the operation side through campus engagement.” 
To meet water reduction goals, both institutions have implemented reclaimed water strategies. As reported in 14850 Today, Cornell and Ithaca College are using recycled water to irrigate lawns, landscapes, and athletic fields.  Additional reclaimed water strategies may be an option to help offset other non-potable demands, such as cooling and heating requirements. Cornell’s team is “engaging key campus stakeholders to identify additional strategies for water reduction across campus.” 
With the USDA Drought Monitor reporting the Ithaca drought moving from a Level 2 (severe) to a Level 3 (extreme) over the course of two months, Cornell and Ithaca College will need to continue its search for alternative water conservation methods to sustain the City’s limited water supply. Brylinksky stated in the same Ithaca Journal article, “The way a lot of people think about crisis management is you isolate and shut down. This is a really different problem; environmental problems are long-term sustainability problems.”
Published September 29, 2016
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