FORT SMITH, Ark. (KFSM) — The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith’s grounds management team Southeast Service Corporation (SSC) received an award for its overhaul of UAFS irrigation systems and its continuing commitment to sustainability on campus.
The team was presented the Ewing Irrigation & Landscape Supply and Audubon International Water & Sustainability Innovation Award Jan. 15.
The honor recognizes landscape companies, organizations, and municipalities for sustainable, water-efficient projects that strive to impact environmental and economic health and quality of life.
“Sustainability is more than money savings or water use reduction; it is a way of life,” said Matt Rich, Grounds Manager for SSC at UAFS. “This national award proves our collaborative efforts in sustainability and water conservation. Our commitment to this work shows in everything we do at UAFS.”
SSC took over grounds management at UAFS in 2017, at which time water use was rising, leaks were prevalent, and issues with installation and scheduling caused a bottleneck of resources.
“We started with the basics and fixed all the leaks over the first few months,” said Rich.
Rich says he and his team continued to implement creative and impactful changes, performing an extensive overhaul of the irrigation system over the course of the next few years.
“We involved many student groups at our university. We educated and built systems together in a collaborative effort to understand the problem and to create the overall solution,” Rich said. “After identifying all of the irrigation on our 168-acre campus, we started to change the way irrigation was discussed.”
Thanks to the sustainability efforts, the campus has reduced irrigation water use by 42.6 percent, saving the university nearly $90,000.
UAFS plans to invest these savings in additional sustainable initiatives, including installing LED lighting and changing water sources to non-potable water.