Sisters Redouble Water-Saving Efforts

Sisters Redouble Water-Saving Efforts

Notre Dame Center sits on about 4.5 acres of land on Hendrix Avenue in Thousand Oaks and houses 32 Sisters of Notre Dame. In light of the worsening drought, several sisters were concerned that their 1.5 acres of landscaped space might be using too much water. So, with the help of California American Water and Blue Watchdog Conservation firm, they conducted a water survey on their property.

The survey revealed that there were, in fact, several simple fixes that could save the sisters water and money. First, the surveyors recommended installing two new Weather Based Irrigation Controllers (WBICs).  According to the survey, the WBICs “work by using specific information about the site, including weather patterns, plant types, soil type, slope, and irrigation system application rates to automatically adjust irrigation schedules.”

A Weather Based Irrigation Controller that can suspend irrigation in the event of rain.

A Weather Based Irrigation Controller that can suspend irrigation in the event of rain.

The surveyors also recommended that 84 sprinklers be replaced with more efficient ones that will save about 149,600 gallons of water per year. The sisters will also need to repair 12 leaky sprinkler heads and adjust 39 nozzles contributing to overspray.

Ripping out the existing lawn on the sisters’ property would be too costly, according to Sister Mary Karlynn Werth, house administrator at Notre Dame Center. However, she does plan to use drought-tolerant plants on all new landscaping projects including the area behind the convent, adjacent to La Reina High School.

Overspray on the sisters' property in Thousand Oaks.

Overspray on the sisters’ property in Thousand Oaks.

“Now’s the time,” Sister Mary Karlynn said of the changes, “Saving water is a personal responsibility and we have to keep encouraging each other to do better.”

Inside Notre Dame Center, saving water has always been important to the sisters, who make sure that loads of laundry and dishes are full before they start.

“We have cut our water usage by nearly half since June of last year,” said Sister Mary Anncarla Costello, provincial superior for the Sisters of Notre Dame in California, “This represents our very conscientious awareness of the seriousness of the situation and our responsibility to contribute to a solution. Each of the sisters is doing her part and those who oversee the daily operations of our property are also working toward conservation.”