Oregon State University

Water

 Water is one of the most important resources on our planet. Because of increased demand, the amount of water available to society is decreasing. Significant resources are used to distribute and treat our water. For these reasons, water should be conserved whenever possible.

Willamette River, source of Most of Corvallis' water

 Water is extremely mobile. Through its complicated cycle, water moves locally, regionally and globally. During this time, it can be exposed to many pollutants and contaminants. The effects of global climate change are expected to have significant effects on the water cycle.

The Clean Water Act, passed in 1972, is the most important piece of legislation regarding water issues. During the year it was passed, only 36% of our lakes and rivers were fit for swimming and fishing. Today, nearly 60% are suitable for these activities, according to the EPA.

Water in Corvallis

Water is treated and distributed by the City of Corvallis. OSU receives all of its treated water from the City. The City processes almost 3 billion gallons of drinking water each year. In Corvallis, we average around 50 inches of precipitation annually, according to the Oregon Climate Service.

Water at OSU

In fiscal year 2010, OSU used over 230 million gallons of treated water.  Expenses related to water (both supply and sewer) totaled nearly $1.5 million during that period.

Oak Creek, OSU's main waterway, has its headwaters in the McDonald-Dunn Research Forest and winds through residential, agricultural and commercial areas before emptying into the Mary's River, which eventually joins with the Willamette River.

Stormwater Management

Stormwater is water that does not permeate the ground but instead runs over impermeable surfaces like roofs, parking lots, and streets, picking up pollutants and debris before finally entering the storm sewer system.  Much of this untreated water evenetually enters creeks, streams and rivers.  The table below shows stormwater management technologies, their purpose and where they are in use on the OSU campus

Stormwater Management Technology or Device Purpose Where in use

Stone Swales

Reduce stormwater velocity, filter pollutants and debris, allow for infiltration, increase biodiversity and enhance habitat, mitigate volume of water entering storm sewer system Reser Stadium parking lot (SW corner) and elsewhere
Bio/vegetated swales  Reduce stormwater velocity, filter pollutants and debris, allow for infiltration, increase biodiversity and enhance habitat, mitigate volume of water entering storm sewer system SW corner of 30th & Washington Way and elsewhere
Rainwater collection & reuse  Divert rainwater for use in toilet flushing Kelley Engineering Center
Rainwater retention Filter pollutants and debris, allow for infiltration, increase biodiversity and enhance habitat, mitigate volume of water entering storm sewer system Kearney Hall and Hallie Ford Center
Permeable hardscapes Allow for infiltration People's Park, newly constructed (in 2010) parking lots in SW corner of 11th & Washington Ave
Filter manhole Filter pollutants and debris Numerous
Detention manhole Mitigate volume of water entering storm sewer system Numerous
Green Roof Filter pollutants and debris, increase biodiversity and enhance habitat, mitigate volume of water entering storm sewer system, provide insulation, aesthetic benefits Behind Ag. Life Sciences on tool shed
Rain Garden Filter pollutants and debris, increase biodiversity and enhance habitat, mitigate volume of water entering storm sewer system, allow for infiltration None currently; planned for west side of Gilmore Hall

The City of Corvallis has stringent regulations and guidelines related to stormwater. 

Water Conservation

Conserving water is the easiest and most efficient way to increase its availability. Please see our tips page for ways to conserve water.

OSU Landscaping uses water-conserving techniques wher ever possible. These techniques include:

  • Watering during the cooler parts of the day (morning and late evening)
  • Utilizing mulch and ground covers to slow the rate of evaporation
  • Use of Maxi-com computerized irrigation system with weather-based watering

More about OSU Landscaping.

If you notice problems with the irrigation system (incorrectly timed or positioned heads, leaks, wet spots, etc.) please contact us.

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