Campus water-use restrictions remain in effect

New and returning Cornell students heading to campus for the fall semester are learning how Ithaca spent its summer vacation: very dry.

Now in the most severe drought Tompkins County has seen since climate records have been kept, the university will enter a fourth week of second-stage drought level while water use restrictions remain in effect.

The restrictions – issued July 28 – require Cornell’s Ithaca campus faculty, staff and students to cease using potable (drinkable) water on campus to water lawns, landscapes and vegetation; to power wash or clean driveways, sidewalks, building surfaces and asphalt; to wash vehicles unless required for safety or compliance; or to use for recreation, such as for sprinklers, games or camp activities.

Normal annual precipitation for Ithaca is about 23.14 inches of water and so far this year, the area has seen 17.69 inches. July featured only 1.87 inches of rain, according to Cornell’s Northeast Regional Climate Center (NRCC).

Despite rain over the past two weeks, Chris Bordlemay, Cornell’s water and wastewater manager, said, “We are still in a severe water-deficit situation, so we’re not out of danger yet.”

In late July, KyuJung Whang, vice president for Infrastructure Properties and Planning, wrote: “For the university to maintain its mission-critical operations, we must work together as a community to decrease overall water use on campus by at least 30 percent as soon as possible.”

The university’s Drought Emergency Planning Team has engaged key campus leaders to identify additional strategies to reduce water consumption across campus. For example, trucks drawing water from Cayuga Lake are watering campus athletic fields.

Whang said restrictions are effective until further notice.

Temperatures for the area are forecast to be above normal for the remainder of August, and precipitation will continue below normal, according to NRCC senior climatologist Keith Eggleston. The 90-day forecast calls for warm temperatures through October.

To suggest water-saving ideas, please contact Infrastructure Properties and Planning customer service. Visit for more information.

How to help:

The university asks all campus community members to assist in implementing the following conservation measures in all campus facilities:

• Turn off faucets while brushing teeth, washing hands or cleaning dishes; discontinue drawing water from area creeks or other accessible water sources; and implement systems to reuse water wherever possible;

• Limit personal shower time to three to five minutes, using colder water when possible;

• Report water leaks, running toilets, dripping faucets or other water issues to your building coordinator immediately;

• All facility managers are asked to check fixtures, toilets and piping for leaks; to submit repair requests immediately; and to continue regular assessment of water fixtures.


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John Carberry