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A History of Conservation

Irvine Company: Leading the Way in Water Conservation

The Irvine Company has always been a leader in water conservation.  In fact, since its founding more than 150 years ago, the Irvine Company has conserved water by all means available.  Over the past several decades, the company has worked closely with local water officials and community leaders on innovative water conservation infrastructure and public-education programs that have positioned the Irvine Company as a national leader in the efficient use – and notably, reuse – of water, long before the current drought.

Efforts Ensure Continued Community and Economic Growth

These initial efforts on the Irvine Ranch in Orange County, Calif. provide residents and businesses there with the rare assurance that their communities will have sufficient water supplies to continue important long-term community and economic growth.

The Irvine Company brings this same commitment to water conservation to its newer properties in Silicon Valley, Los Angeles and San Diego.

The benefits and importance of the Irvine Company’s thoughtful master-planned approach to water use cannot be overstated. A safe, plentiful and reliable supply of water – supported by an aggressive commitment to recycling it by all means available – is essential to an area’s future growth and prosperity.

150-Plus Years of Using Water Wisely

The old adage, Every drop counts, rings truer today than ever before – and it has guided the Irvine Company’s approach to water conservation for more than a century and a half.

Like all of its initial conservation and environmental stewardship efforts on The Irvine Ranch, the Irvine Company’s success at conserving water is the product of collaborative efforts involving diverse interests, including Irvine Ranch Water District, environmental organizations, community leaders and local cities, as well as county, state and federal agencies.

Following is an overview of major efforts to conserve, reclaim and reuse water on The Irvine Ranch:

  • When the Michelson Water Reclamation Plant in Irvine opened in 1967, it represented the most aggressive commitment to using reclaimed water in California’s history. The backbone of the plant is an elaborate dual-pipe system that winds its way through The Ranch. One system of pipes delivers fresh water to homes and businesses, while the other system-featuring more than 450 miles of pipeline-transports treated reclaimed water that is used to irrigate large landscaped areas such as parks, golf courses, community greenbelts and roadway medians. More than 20% of all water supplied by IRWD is reclaimed water.
  • For many years, the Irvine Company has used the latest indoor plumbing and outdoor irrigation technologies extensively in new-home construction, making today’s homes fully 50 percent more water-efficient than their older counterparts.
  • Since the 1980s, every Irvine Company retail, office and apartment community in Irvine has used reclaimed water for its landscaping.
  • In the early 1990s, the Irvine Company and IRWD pioneered the use of reclaimed water in restrooms throughout several of the company’s high-rise office buildings, also using the dual-pipe delivery system. And since the mid-1980s, water-saving fixtures such as low-flow shower heads and toilets have been used in homes, hotels and office buildings built on The Ranch.
  • The Irvine Ranch was an early proponent of the extensive use of drip irrigation to water crops and orchards. Drip irrigation uses significantly less water than traditional sprinkler irrigation systems.
  • The Irvine Company was also an early adaptor of smart irrigation controllers (a high-tech system that controls how much water is used to irrigate our landscapes based on plant/soil type and weather conditions), drip and low-flow irrigation for our office, retail, apartment and resort properties, and master valves with flow sensors that automatically shut off water when the flow sensor detects a leak.
Water SWAT team
Underscoring its commitment to water conservation throughout its portfolio in Irvine and elsewhere, the Irvine Company several years ago established a team comprising approximately 50 water experts. Team members (just a few of them shown here) represent the company’s various divisions and departments, including office, retail, apartments, resorts and residential development. Members constantly monitor water usage and efficiencies across the company’s portfolio, making adjustments when needed and retrofitting irrigation systems with the latest water-saving equipment and technologies. Designated team leaders meet in person weekly to review current local water conditions and to discuss new and upcoming statewide drought regulations and policies.