University of Houston Addresses Watering Challenges in Midst of Drought
With Texas in the midst of an historic drought and Houstonians
facing residential water restrictions, the University of Houston
also is addressing serious watering challenges. The university
is still watering, but doing so strategically and in accordance
with stage 2 water conservation measures.
According to UH Landscape Planning and Grounds Manager Roger
Warner, the university is engaged in the delicate balancing act
between keeping the campus healthy for returning students, and
being good environmental citizens. Facilities Management is
tasked with maintaining the campus’ 667-acres of landscaped
The automatically controlled irrigation system, which operate 95
percent of the campus sprinklers, is in the process of being
adjusted to a Wednesday-Saturday, Thursday-Sunday schedule. The
11 watering zones on campus that represent the remaining 5
percent of sprinklers must be manually operated. The
responsibility of hand-controlled irrigation has been moved to
the early shift so that it takes place during the morning hours.
“You will see us watering, but we are doing so mindful of the
current drought and with a specific strategy in place,” said
Other water-related priorities include immediately addressing
irrigation leaks within 48 hours. The dry ground is taking a
toll on the university’s landscaping infrastructure, keeping
grounds and maintenance personnel busy with repairs.
There are several specific circumstances where the campus
community may see watering happening during the day. Those
include the ongoing effort to save young trees that were planted
in the winter and spring. The trees replaced those lost during
Hurricane Ike in 2008. The young trees, as well as trees showing
signs of shock, are being hand-watered at the base in an effort
to save the trees and the investment in replacing the trees.
The other exception to the late evening and early morning
watering is the athletic and sports fields. The fields are
closely cut and the stress of the high heat requires that they
be watered during the day. If not, the fields will very quickly
deteriorate and become a health and safety issue for athletic
and intramural student-athletes.
Warner said he keeps in contact with his counterparts at other
area universities such as Rice and St. Thomas to make sure they
are sharing information, procedures and best practices.
“The drought poses a significant challenge to the university,
but we know we are not alone, most of Texas is facing a similar
scenario. As this continues and in our effort to be a good
community partner, we want to make sure we are doing our part to
reduce consumption,” said Warner.
If you have any questions, please contact Roger Warner,
Landscape Planning & Grounds Manager at 713-743-9671 or