WESTWOOD—After six months of work, UCLA will re-open its newly drought-friendly Intramural Field on July 10.
The eight acres of the IM Field have been changed from grass to artificial turf, a transformation that will “save an estimated 6.4 million gallons of water per year,” according to the university’s official statement. The turf is made of “exclusively American-sourced materials, … selected after being thoroughly studied for safety.”
The new turf is also more resilient than grass, giving students more play time. The grass field was regularly closed for up to four months out of the year to recuperate from the effects of recreation activities and weather, said director of recreation sports venues and events operations Rich Mylin. The artificial turf can withstand year-round usage.
The IM Field is only one part of UCLA’s “water-wise, grass-replacement projects.” With four other landscaping projects replacing grass with artificial lawn and drought-tolerant plants, UCLA expects to save 11.3 million gallons of water a year.
The 45,500-square-foot lawn in front of Murphy Hall was xeriscaped with drought-tolerant vegetation and is expected to save 3 million gallons of water a year.
“Grass is much more water intensive, and while we don’t want to get rid of all of it, we’re systematically moving away from it for ornamental areas,” UCLA’s chief sustainability officer Nurit Katz said in a statement. “It’s part of our response to the dought, and part of our long-term water action plan.”
In addition to landscaping changes, this plan includes “water recycling, low-flow shower heads and toilets” and “a UCLA-invented filtration system will soon clean thousands of gallons” of water a day.
UCLA had been making efforts to curb water usage even before the drought. The university has “already reduced its water use by 7.6 percent per capita since 2000, … [saving] more than 100 million gallons [a year] so far.”