In 2014, the Santa Ana Unified School District joined a REV Sustainability Circle along with eight other Southern California school districts. Over a year later, Santa Ana USD is a shining example of sustainability leadership. As a result of their participation in the SoCal WaterSmart Turf Removal Program, the District is saving millions of gallons of water and just received a hefty $340,000 rebate check!

Recently Dale McCurry, Energy Manager for Santa Ana Unified School District spoke at a board meeting of the Metropolitan Water District about their participation in the program and its benefits to the District and the community. We’re grateful to Dale for allowing us to share his speech to the board below, and we congratulate SAUSD on their sustainability achievements!

Presentation to the MWD Board, December 7, 2015

Santa Ana Unified School District opens and shares many of our school sites with the City of Santa Ana and various local sports leagues. This is due to our city having less than 2% parkland as percent of adjusted city area. In addition, Santa Ana has the youngest median age of any large city in the state. And one of the most challenging statistics: it is one of the most densely populated cities in the nation. This is why our projects faced so many obstacles. Each campus is a vital resource to the community it serves and every day one is closed for construction or is not usable has a negative impact. To that end, the District is converting many locations to all-weather surfaces that promote year-round use.

SAUSD turf programIn mid-2014, the District applied for turf rebates at two of our school sites. The MWD worked with the District in the development of a design solution that provides significant water savings while allowing the District to design a facility that provides year-round use for the school and community.

Through the MWD Turf Rebate Program, the District installed a groundwater recharge system at both sites. Overall, the two sites are capable of returning over 3.1 million gallons of rainwater back into the water table per year. In the 5 months of operation thru November of this year, the system is estimated to have replenished in excess of 380,000 gallons into the local water table. This is in addition to the 8.8 million gallons of water yearly that will be saved from the turf removal. But more importantly, the program has raised the awareness of water conservation and what a precious resource water is. How do you place a value on that? I think that it will have an enormous impact in shaping future conservation behaviors. We have just recently incorporated this design in another project that broke ground this last week.

At Santa Ana USD, we have been aggressive and have removed over 970,000 sf of turf from 14 school sites since 2011. It is estimated that our District has saved over 51 million gallons of water from this turf removal. Had we installed a groundwater recharge with each of those projects, an additional 20+ million gallons could have been saved. That being said, there are literally hundreds of schools that can benefit from these types of water conservation projects. But only if you continue the program.

We thank you for allowing us this opportunity to share our partnered accomplishments. This partnership helped us complete this important project for our students and our community. We would like to encourage the MWD to continue conservation programs such as these that provide sustainable solutions to reduce our water demand with the added benefit of increasing recreational opportunities in our schools and communities.


For more information on the SoCal WaterSmart program, visit http://socalwatersmart.com/commercial/