Written by Ashley Frost & ECOS Engaged Living, Contributor
Furman University’s grass is always green. Students walk to class every day by the lake, flowing fountains, and lawns that are watered twice a day on campus. Furman is a water-filled oasis, amid a drought plaguing the area around Greenville.
The state of South Carolina’s drought map currently (as of October 4th) encompasses Furman University in a “moderate drought” zone, where, “voluntary water-use restrictions [are] requested.”
Even without a drought, Furman’s water use is excessive. Most of the grass around campus is tall fescue, and according to Clemson’s Home & Garden Information Center, “tall fescue needs a weekly application of about 1 to 1¼ inches of water, which will wet the soil to a depth of 4 to 6 inches.” The grass on campus is most definitely being watered more than an inch per week. The grass is watered at least twice a day, once in the morning and once at night.
Additionally, the sprinklers around campus are inefficiently arranged. Anyone awake for either watering cycle can watch several sprinklers water the same, single area, overlapping, and essentially watering that same spot. This means the grass is not only being watered twice a day but several times over.
According to Organo-Lawn, an organic fertilizer company, “over-watering a lawn causes the soil to become anaerobic or absent of oxygen. Water replaces air in the soil and anaerobic soils become compacted, preventing deep digging grassroots, and killing beneficial microbial activity.” In other words, too much water kills grass. The runoff from the excess watering is also a large issue, with pesticides, fertilizers, and any other residue left on the grass, contaminating other water systems.
Saving water saves money too and watering the grass once a week (efficiently) would effectively cut the water bill in at least half .
Furman University’s website boasts that we were “one of the top 10 overall performers in the 2018 Sustainable Campus Index,” but water waste and, in turn, improper care of the plants on campus, is in direct conflict with the mission of sustainability.