For Penn's lawns, when it rains, it pours.
Even during the heaviest downpours, the University sprinkler system is in full operation - saturating grass that has already been watered by the elements.
University officials admit that the sprinklers can't tell whether the ground is damp or not, but say there is little they can do about it, raising concerns in the Penn community about the University's operational efficiency.
Environmental conservation is one of the many issues University officials have been considering in recent weeks due to a proposal - presented by the Green Campus Partnership and Penn Environmental Group - calling for campus-wide environmentally friendly policies.
Accountability for the use of natural resources, such as water, is a key part of the proposal.
Nishi Shah, a College senior and co-director of the Penn Environmental Group, said that under their plan, water conservation is an area where the University should become more efficient.
The situation with the sprinklers, Shah said, should be comparable to the University's policy of installing motion sensors that turn lights off in many University-owned buildings when rooms are not in use.
Although the University has no plans to replace its sprinkler system, certain measures are in place to combat excess watering, according to Kris Kealey, urban park manager for Penn Facilities.
If a specific is deemed over-watered due to heavy rains, Kealey's office will not set the sprinklers to run their next cycle.
Since precipitation has been especially high this fall, she said, they have been changing the cycles often, and due to the most recent rainfall, the systems are all off at the moment.
Still, Kealey confirmed that the sprinklers do run during the rain - an unfortunate, but unavoidable situation, she said.
The amount of excess water used during downpours is unknown, she added.
There are sprinklers on the athletic fields that have sensors and do not run while it is raining however.
The University's sprinkler system operates on a timed cycle and consists of nearly 40 different types of irrigation mechanisms, Kealey said. It waters most large grassy areas on campus.
The varying types of sprinklers and their differing locations makes it impossible to turn them off each time it rains, Kealey said.
Wharton sophomore Erik Hickman, who has seen the sprinklers going off in the rain on College Green, said keeping College Green "green" is worth the extra water.
Letting the sprinklers run during the rain is "better than using the time and effort to turn it off when there are more important things to do on campus," Hickman said.
Beyond the efficiency of campus upkeep, though, over-watering can also have adverse effects on the environment, both Shah and Kealey said.
Certain areas on campus, such as Hill Field, Kealey said, have poor drainage systems and are harmed by over-watering.
Shah also said that in areas that are fertilized, over-watering can cause harmful chemicals to enter into the drainage system.Comments powered by Disqus
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