Water in the Walla Walla Community

Water, as we all know, is essential to human life. Walla Walla receives an average of 20.86" of precipitation each year. Our water is delivered and purified via a complex system. While this system adds to our regional carbon footprint (through the energy-water nexus) the hydroelectric from the system offsets a significant portion of our regional carbon footprint. At this time much of our water comes from the Mill Creek Watershed and the "City also has seven deep (800-1400') basalt wells used to supplement supply when stream levels decline in summer months." (City of Walla Walla). While the population of the Walla Walla Valley has remained stable there has been an increased focus on our aquifer. In addition to this expansion of current water infrastructure, droughts, fire, pharmaceuticals, snowpack, carcinogens and other reasons, create issues relating to our water supply. (USGS) The changing environmental dynamics of our region and issues related to water security continue to increase questions related to our future water supply. Therefore, it is imperative that we manage this precious resource as wisely as possible.

Campus Water Usage

Water Cycle Image

On average our campus uses 60,000 CCF of water per year. This is enough water to fill around 70 Olympic-size swimming pools, or close to 2% of Bennington Lake's capacity. Given the magnitude of water use, it is imperative that we adopt environmental conscious decisions in the way we use water. The Office of Sustainability is developing a campus Sustainability Strategic Plan. This plan will have the following objectives with regard to water conservation: 

  • Institute water conservation practices and planning throughout the campus to reduce both domestic and outdoor water use
  • Decrease utility costs, and
  • Model effective stormwater management.