It’s raining and FAMU’s sprinklers are running. There’s a reason why.


With all the water that’s been pouring from the sky, it’s a wonder that FAMU’s sprinklers never stop spitting.

Tallahassee received 12.74 inches of rain during the first 10 days in July, National Weather Service meteorologist Nate McGinnis said. This is 1.5 inches above average.

Even with all of this rain, FAMU keeps the sprinklers running. Sometimes the sprinklers are running at the same time it’s raining.  

“I don’t get the point of having the sprinklers consistently running like that if it’s raining like every day. It’s just wasteful,” Sarah Ingram, a FAMU political science senior, said.

Kiera Hopkins, a representative from the FAMU Office of Sustainability, offered an explanation on why running the sprinklers in the rain is actually a sustainable practice. 

“The campus is unique in that it has its own in-house waste water treatment plant,” Hopkins said.

For years, the plant had been cleaning the wastewater, which comes from the sinks and toilets on campus.

When FAMU first started treating the water, it was filtered and then dumped into a small depression of soil. Over the years, this treatment method turned that small depression into a nearby lake.

That system was then changed to push treated water into injection wells. Most wells pull water out of the ground, but these wells push it deep underground.

Hopkins said this method is safe and it is used throughout the state.

According to Kathryn Ziewitz, the sustainability program coordinator, the school later looked into using this water for irrigation.  At the time, the irrigation system was a major sink for water.

This system was changed about 10 years ago to use the reclaimed water for the sprinklers first.

Today, about 98 percent of the water used for irrigation on campus comes from the reclaimed water system.

When the tank becomes too full, the irrigation system runs, even if rain is falling. This is in addition to scheduled watering.

The amount of water in the tank is dependent on the number of students on campus using sinks, showers and toilets. This means the number of times the sprinklers come on can change on a weekly basis.

“Even if it continues raining for another week, you might actually see the sprinklers come on in the rain,” Hopkins said.