Responding to a “severe drought” affecting the Ithaca area, Cornell has released a water restriction plan for the University and its inhabitants.
At current water consumption rates, Ithaca could drain its reservoir within the next 30 days, if there is not significant rainfall or a significant reduction in consumption, according to a City of Ithaca press release.
Chris Bordlemay, Cornell University water and wastewater manager, said the University has asked for a “30 percent reduction where possible” across the board to prepare for the thousands of students arriving to campus in coming weeks.
“There will be an increase in demand starting next week and we’d really to like to see some reduction between now and then,” Bordlemay said.
The University’s water restriction plan is currently at stage two, prompting the University to stop watering lawns and powerwashing buildings in addition to advising students to reduce water usage for the time being, according to the University water restriction plan.
If current trends continue, there will not be enough potable — clean and treated — water for students returning to campus in the fall, the plan warns.
Cornell Plantations has also taken extreme measures to cut back water usage while still maintaing their diversity of foliage and keeping plants alive, according to a the plantations website.
If water usage is not reduced, the water restriction plan will progress to stage three, where significantly more stringent water limitations will be implemented, while more extreme operations will be reduced, according to the University.
The University has formed a Drought Emergency Planning Team in response to the summer water shortage, headed by KyuJung Whang, vice president of infrastructure properties and planning at Cornell.
If matters do not improve, Bordlemay said the University may be forced to undergo “water rationing.”
“Cornell would have to decide who gets water and who doesn’t, and for how long,” Bordlemay said. “We are not at that point yet, but the [Drought Emergency Planning Team] is having an ongoing conversation about the possibility of reaching a potential water ban.”
The DEPT is also investigating alternative water sources for plant irrigation, according to Bordlemay.
“We’re looking at backup supplies, potable water treatment units to treat water drawn from Cayuga Lake and to put into the community water distribution systems,” he said.
The University issued a limited water advisory in July, but has only seen a decline in water levels in the reservoir, according to the City of Ithaca release.
Bordlemay said the University is examining possible backup supplies and potable water treatment units to treat water drawn from Cayuga Lake and distribute it to the community.
The University is aiming to involve the DEPT in additional long-term planning to prevent this kind of water crisis from occuring again in the future, Bordlemay said.