By Amanda Mattes- Water
In the two weeks since our last update, our team has been working to come up with a tangible plan that is both impactful and feasible. We decided that to create a successful water audit, it is important for us to thoroughly develop our plan before collecting data. To ensure we encounter as few challenges as possible, we are carefully reviewing water audits from other universities to see what problems they faced. Our team read a Water Action Plan master’s thesis from UCSB and decided it would be helpful to interview their team members. We were able to speak with Matt and Jewel, two of the team members, and we learned many things we would not have otherwise considered. For instance, our team knew that auditing toilets posed a challenge because it would require us to remove stand pipes, replace them with a malleable tube, and divert the water into a five-gallon bucket. Because none of us have any experience in plumbing, this method of auditing is not an option for us. Even though the plumbing staff could potentially help us audit toilets, it would be time consuming and take them away from their other tasks. After our conversation with Jewel and Matt, however, we were informed that there might be an easier way to audit the toilets. They told us that there is a device that can be stuck onto the toilet bowl and measure the gallons per flush without manipulating the pipes. This device is ideal for our project and may be something we apply to get funding for if our stakeholders agree.
Another important point that Jewel and Matt brought up was that some of the buildings at UCLA have old infrastructure, and their pipes would not hold up if the toilets were replaced with low flow toilets. These pipes were built to hold a flow that has a minimum amount of liquid, and they can get clogged easily if there is not enough liquid in the flow. Our team will take this into consideration and avoid auditing buildings where replacing the current toilets with low-flow ones is not an option. Jewel and Matt also told us that UCSC’s water audit is an excellent model, so our team will be reviewing that this week and discussing it with our stakeholder when we meet with them Friday morning.