Faucet modifications limit water flow to 0.5 gallons per minute. A standard sink uses between 2.5 and 3.5 gallons per minute. The shower heads are at 1.5 gallons per minute. | Photo illustration by Kyle McCarty/Mustang News

Sean McMinn

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No, the bathroom sink isn’t broken.

The apparent decrease in water pressure in faucets around Cal Poly is actually due to low-flow aerators attached to faucets in an attempt to save water during California’s drought, and they’re accompanied by a number of other measures.

“In public restrooms throughout the campus, the common restrooms in the dorms and in shower heads throughout, we got them all,” said Dennis Elliot, Cal Poly’s assistant director for energy, utilities and sustainability.

The faucet modifications, which are screw-on pieces attached to the end of faucets, limit water flow to .5 gallons per minute. A standard sink uses between 2.5 and 3.5 gallons per minute, Elliot said.

The change was immediately noticeable.

“Interestingly, we got a few calls within the first few days after that had happened, people thinking that their building water pressure had dropped because the flow was noticeably different,” he said.

In addition, Cal Poly spent part of the summer making similar changes to showers in the residence halls. Most were already “ultra-low flow” at 1.5 gallons per minute, Elliot said, but those that were using more were reduced.

The reductions in water flow come as California experiences a drought so severe Gov. Jerry Brown declared a water emergency in January and ordered state agencies to limit their water usage.

As a result, Cal Poly is required by 2016 to be using 10 percent less water than it does now, and to lower it another 10 percent by 2022.

“I think certainly we are in for a bumpy ride, and I think hopefully that we got some good rain in the years coming up,” Elliot said. “But we’re in for some things we’ve never seen before.”

Cal Poly is also looking at converting lawns into low-water use or zero-water use areas, though Elliot said he recognizes students are fond of several lawns around campus and would be sad to see them go.

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