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April 25, 2005

Making sense of the campus's LRDP project

In an effort to provide additional information to the campus community about the process of updating the campus's Long Range Development Plan, Currents is periodically discussing various aspects of the LRDP with campus personnel.

Ilse Kolbus

Ilse Kolbus
Photo: Jim Burns

This month's Q&A is with Ilse Kolbus, director of Physical Plant, who leads a team of experts on the "infrastructure" issues related to the planning project.

Q: What precisely is meant by the term "infrastructure" in planning documents like the LRDP?

A: Infrastructure is a broad term used to define the services and facilities that support the day-to-day operations of the campus. These typically include utility systems such as water, electricity, gas, and sewer systems; transportation networks such as paths, roads, and bridges; central heating and cooling systems; and communication networks--all the campus elements that usually are in the background, but which are necessary for the academic and service mission work of the campus to take place.

Q: Which aspect of infrastructure may be the most challenging for a campus like UCSC that is growing?

A: From my perspective, there are two main infrastructure issues that will challenge the campus as it plans for future growth-aging systems that will require upgrade and expansion, which is a financial resource issue, and ensuring an adequate water supply as we endeavor to house more students, faculty, and staff on campus. Of the two, it's possible that water will emerge as the most challenging infrastructure issue in the 2005 LRDP. I say this because water is a resource that we obtain from the City of Santa Cruz, and the city's planning studies indicate it has a limited supply. Without development of additional sources, the city's water supply is constrained in drought years. Given this, it will be important that the campus, which has an impressive history of water conservation, do even more in this area.

Q: What kind of record does the campus have in terms of working with the city on water issues and for conserving water?

A: The campus has contributed to capital improvement projects and upgrades of the water system as part of its mitigation measures in the 1988 LRDP. It is also committed to exploring assistance to the city in future system upgrades and in the development of new supplies.

More importantly, the campus is committed to implementing water conservation measures. Since 1986, enrollment has grown around 70 percent and water use has increased only 20 percent. This has been achieved by installing water-conserving fixtures and through improved irrigation techniques and the planting of drought-tolerant landscaping. We have also worked to educate our students about the importance of careful water use.

To accommodate the growth outlined in the LRDP, the campus will need to be even more aggressive when it comes to water conservation. New buildings such as Engineering 2, for example, incorporate waterless urinals, each one of which saves 40,000 gallons of water annually. Retrofitting existing buildings with these kinds of features could produce substantial water savings campuswide.

On the supply end of the equation, the campus could explore development of its own water supply, and maintain our long-standing willingness to assist the city in developing additional water resources.

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