U.S. Mayors Ask Residents To Participate In Challenge for Water Conservation

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Since April 1, mayors across the U.S. have been asking their residents to commit to conserving water and reducing pollution by participating in a national contest. The focus of the Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation is reducing water and energy use. Participants have a chance to win prizes, including a Toyota Prius Plug-In. The contest lasts through the month.

The Wyland Foundation holds the challenge every year during Earth Month (April 1-30). The Challenge encourages people across the country to  conserve water and energy by pledging online. Last year, over 100 mayors encouraged their residents to participate in the challenge. Residents from over 3,600 cities in all 50 states pledged to reduce their annual water use by 1.4 billion gallons. They also pledged to reduce waste sent to landfills by 36 million pounds, prevent over 179,000 pounds of hazardous waste from entering watersheds, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 5.3 million pounds. 

Last year, three U.S. cities (Dallas, Corpus Christi, Texas, Huntington Beach, California, and Bremerton, Washington) and one Canadian city (Crete, New Brunswick) led an effort among over 23,000 people to take 277,742 different actions over the year to reduce water use. If all people who made commitments stuck to them, national water waste will have been reduced by 1.4 billion gallons. 

California cities taking the lead in four of five categories

There are five different categories of the challenge based on city population. In all but one of the categories, California cities are at the top in this year’s competition as of April 22. Perhaps the reason why residents of California’s cities are willing to participate in large numbers is because they are already reducing water. This year marks the fourth year of the challenge, and it is also the fourth year of California’s drought. 

Last year, California Governor Edmund G. Brown declared a drought state of emergency. Earlier this month, Brown directed the State Water Resources Control Board to implement mandatory water reductions in cities and towns across the state in order to reduce water use by 25 percent. This is the first time in California’s history that a governor has issued mandatory water reductions. A 25 percent reduction equals about 1.5 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months, or almost as much water as in Lake Oroville. 

The governor’s order earlier this month also directed cities and towns across to do the following:

  • Replace 50 million square feet of lawns throughout the state with drought tolerant landscaping. 
  • Require campuses, golf courses, cemeteries and other large landscapes to make significant cuts in water use.
  • Prohibit new homes and developments from irrigating with potable water unless water-efficient drip irrigation systems are used
  • Ban watering of ornamental grass on public street medians.

There is a reason why Brown had to resort to mandatory water reductions. Four years of the drought have left the state’s reservoirs at low levels. Reservoirs across the state, representing 27.3 million acre feet storage of water, are at 40 percent capacity. The state’s snowpack level was five percent of the April 1st average. The lowest previous snowpack level was 25 percent of average in 1950, so 2015 is the driest winter in the state’s written record.

Photo: Eric Norris