Landscaping project saves big on water usage

By on Wednesday, January 5th, 2022 in Columbia Basin News More Top Stories

WALLA WALLA – Nearly 1 million gallons of water will now be saved because of environmental sustainability elements put into place at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Walla Walla District headquarters building. The building’s updated landscaping plan utilizes plants and trees that require less maintenance and water.

In March 2017, the Department of Defense sent a memo directing all DOD facilities to reduce domestic water use for landscape maintenance.

“Before the landscaping project, the Walla Walla District Headquarters campus used an average of 2 million gallons of filtered water a year for irrigation,” Project Manager Samantha Handcox said. “Now that will be reduced nearly by half to almost a million gallons. We project we’ll save 967,000 gallons of drinking water every year for the city of Walla Walla.”

Before the new landscaping plan was put into place, maintenance on the 1.68 acres resulted in a high cost for the Walla Walla District operation budget. The USACE has since substituted lawn with mulch and concrete to reduce the consumption of drinking water.

Another improvement to the headquarters’ landscape focuses on security as directives required the building to construct vehicle barriers in front of the north and east entrances. In addition, large evergreen shrubbery that reduced visibility was removed to enhance site safety for security guards and cameras.

“The final improvements are experiential, visual and practical,” Handcox said. “More self-sustaining features such as paved areas, pathways, gathering spaces and an outdoor amphitheater are now accessible. The outdoor improvements promote strolling, eating, and gathering areas for social events which is an important factor for a health staff environment. Overall, it has become a more people-friendly experience in our community.”