Utilities FAQs

Find answers to frequently asked questions pertaining to Utilities!

 

  • Can I tour the campus wastewater treatment plant?
  • Please contact Brad Butterfield (blbutterfield@ucdavis or (530) 681-8639) or Michael Fan (mmfan@ucdavis.edu or (916) 870-5747 to arrange a tour.
  • Do campus buildings have utility meters?
  • Because the campus centrally pays for most utilities, UC Davis was slow to meter utility use at the building level. However, for the past few years, we have been aggressively installing modern, utility meters. All facilities that are required to pay for their utility use are now metered.  Additionally, nearly every large facilities constructed in recent years, regardless of space type, has been fully metered.  Nearly 90% of total electricity used on campus is now metered at the building level.  Our goal, as funding allows, is to have all steam and chilled water use metered at the buildings too, so total energy use for buildings can be tracked.
  • Does UC Davis recycle water?
  • UC Davis makes limited use of its highly treated wastewater effluent. The water meets all standards for unrestricted use. Currently, only the grounds of the Wastewater Treatment Plant itself and the surrounding area are irrigated using reclaimed water.
  • Has UC Davis installed energy efficient lighting in its parking lots and structures? 
  • UC Davis has been a leader in the installation of innovative, energy-efficient lighting. In collaboration with the UC Davis California Lighting Technology Center (CLTC) and Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS), all of the campus parking structures and parking lots have been retrofitted with state-if the art lighting systems.
  • How is UC Davis water treated?
  • The campus’s domestic water comes from two sources, groundwater from the campus deep wells and surface water from Sacrament River.  The groundwater is not treated, except for disinfection using chlorine (sodium hypochlorite). Chlorine levels are typically maintained at 0.5 ppm (parts per million). The Sacramento water is treated at the Regional Water Treatment Facility in Woodland.  The raw water is treated by traditional surface water techniques, such as flash mixing and granular media filtration to remove microorganisms and other contaminants. The finished water is injected with chlorine and ortho-phosphate before it is delivered into the Universitys transmission line.
  • How much electricity does the campus use and how much does it cost?
  • The main campus currently uses about 230 million kilowatt-hours per year. Thanks to energy conservation efforts, that total has been declining despite campus growth.  The total electricity demand in 2018 is 197 million kilowatt-hour per year.  Taking all expenses into account all the way to each building, the net cost is less than 8 cents/kwh.
  • What are the current utility rates?
  • See: http://campus-care.ucdavis.edu//utilities/rates.shtml
  • What can I pour down the drain?
  • The University operates its state-of-the art tertiary treatment plant in the south campus to treat our wastewater. Much of the wastewater generated on the campus is normal domestic sewage (from those who live on campus or from campus restrooms). However, wastewater from laboratory drains and other non-domestic wastewater sources also drains into the sanitary sewer.  Campus policy does not allow for disposal of hazardous chemicals to the sewers.  To ensure continued compliance with permit conditions and prevent problems from occurring at the wastewater treatment plant, the University has developed a comprehensive sewer disposal policy with specific sewer discharge limits for over 100 constituents of concern. The sewer disposal policy and discharge limits are known in the parlance of wastewater engineering as "Local Limits."
  • What do I do if my elevator stops working?
  • An elevator not working is always an emergency so therefore give us a call and we will get it fixed accordingly.
  • What is building commissioning?
  • "Total building commissioning” is a process for validating that facilities and building systems can be operated and maintained according to their design intent. The commissioning process begins at project inception and continues for the life of the facility, from schematic design through occupancy and operation. This reduces costs by integrating the many interdependent systems associated with campus projects, which results in fully functional, fine-tuned facilities, with complete documentation and well-trained operating and maintenance personnel. add you additional info

  • What to do if a toilet is running?
  • Call 752-1655 and they will take care of it.
  • Where can I get information about the campus drinking water quality? 
  • As a public water supplier, we prepare annual “Consumer Confidence Reports” with considerable detail about our water quality. Campus Water Quality Reports are published on the Utilities website.
  • Where does UC Davis get its electricity?
  • UC Davis owns and operates its own electrical substation, which gives us the ability to purchase power from suppliers of our choosing. We are connected to PG&E transmission mains, and we pay them a fee for transmission. Currently, UC Davis has contracts with the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) to supply energy to campus.  WAPA is a federal agency within the Department of Energy that is charged with operating the Central Valley Project, which generates electricity using large-scale hydro facilities.  UC Davis receives 1.2% of the total power available from the Project, which varies considerably from year to year.  The effective price for the hydro power is extremely low, averaging less than 2 cents/kwh.  In recent years, this hydro power has provided 12-30% of the total power used at UC Davis.  This contract remains in effect until the end of 2024.  The balance of the power used by the campus is also supplied by WAPA under a separate contract.  That electricity can be considered market-rate, mostly non-renewable, power.  The campus also has a 16.3 megawatt solar farm providing electricity to the campus.  This annual production is expected to reduce the campus’ carbon footprint by about 14,000 metric tons of GHG emissions.
  • Where does UC Davis get its water?
  • UC Davis runs its own domestic water system. Six on-campus wells are used as the University’s domestic water supply. These wells draw water from aquifers 800 to 1400 feet below the ground. Shallower wells are used to provide irrigation water for the campus.  Additionally, the campus purchases surface water from the Solano Project for field teaching and research, primarily in the West and South Campuses.
  • Who pays for campus utilities? 
  • The vast majority of utility use at UC Davis takes place in state-funded space, and state-funded facilities are not directly charged for utility use. The Utilities Division receives centralized funding to cover these expenses. About 7-15% of the utilities used at UC Davis support facilities that do not receive state funding (e.g., “Auxiliary Units”, like Student Housing).  These facilities are all metered, and the Utilities Division invoices these customers monthly based on actual use and charges the current rate to provide each utility
  • Why does the Arboretum Waterway look so yucky? 
  • The Arboretum Waterway is shaped like a flowing creek, but all natural inflow into the channel was eliminated before the turn of the 20th century to prevent flooding in Davis. In the late 1960s, the Arboretum Waterway was constructed along the old stream channel as a storm water retention pond. During dry weather, the Arboretum Waterway typically receives no inflows.  In the Central Valley climate, the lack of fresh water combined with warm weather and sunlight creates ideal conditions for algae growth.  The water looks bad, but it supports an abundant number of fish, turtles, and birds.

    To improve water quality aesthetics, the campus been routing all of the highly treated water from the campus wastewater treatment plant through the western half of the Arboretum Waterway.  Results have been mixed, but the general consensus is that this has improved water quality in that section of the Waterway. Arboretum Waterway Improvements Environmental Review