Hundreds of mayors from cities around the nation have already thrown their hats into the ring to see who can be the most water-wise for 2016.
Mayors and city residents participate in the 2015 Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation. (Wyland Foundation)
This is a guest post by Steve Creech.
While El Nino has delivered on at least part of its anticipated weather swings, it has done little to change the status quo facing the nation’s water supply problem. In fact, many of the water issues that existed prior to El Nino – including drought, aging water infrastructure, and pollution – remain high priority issues for cities across the nation and are expected to continue into the foreseeable future.
That’s part of the message behind the upcoming Wyland National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation, April 1-30. Now in its fifth year, the annual competition encourages mayors to use the power of their posts to spread the word about the importance of water conservation and rewards residents who heed the call with a chance to win a Toyota Prius, home irrigation makeovers, and hundreds more eco-friendly prizes.
Along the way, cities across the nation can measure the commitment of their residents with head-to-head comparisons of other cities. Is their city trending up, or is it falling behind? How much support is your city leadership putting behind the water conservation issue? A top ten list yields the answer throughout the month in real time. Hundreds of mayors from cities around the nation, including Portland, Tucson, and Dallas, have already thrown their hats into the ring to see who can be the most water-wise for 2016.
The non-profit campaign is presented nationally by Toyota and the Wyland Foundation, in association with the National League of Cities, EPA WaterSense, the Toro Company, Ecos, Conserva Irrigation, and mayors and water agencies across the country. Residents are encouraged to make a series of pledges online at www.mywaterpledge.com to change behaviors that can ultimately reduce stress on infrastructure, promote drought resiliency, save costs, and protect watersheds and ecosystems. Cities with the highest percentage of residents that make pledges in their population categories qualify for over $50,000 in prize drawings.
The campaign is designed to bring together all facets of the community together, to follow their city’s progress throughout the month, and to use that information to encourage neighbors, businesses, and civic groups to spread the word. But the challenge goes beyond a simple competition. It encourages residents to learn about resources in their area to take their commitment to conservation even further, from regional water and energy resource issues, to identifying cost-saving measure as home. There are cost-saving rebates, a national mobile outreach tour, even a classroom component for schools to help support their city’s efforts. Last year, residents from 3,900 cities took part in the challenge, including mayors from 36 states.
With city staff facing time and budgetary challenges, the National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation was designed for easy implementation at little or no cost for participating cities. It is a simple, easy-to-use platform that turns residents into water conservation ambassadors, promotes community goal-setting to change consumer behavior, and puts a spotlight on mayors who are working hard to tackle the nation’s water supply problem.
Cities that are interested in participating in the challenge can call the Wyland Foundation at 949-643-7070 or visit www.wylandfoundation.org/mayors for a downloadable city toolkit. There is no cost to participate, and cities can participate at any time throughout the month of April. Cities are also encouraged to become EPA WaterSense partners to help educate the public on the importance of water efficiency. Learn more at www.epa.gov/watersense.
Coming to the NLC Congressional City Conference? Be sure to stop by the “Federal Agency Round Robin” session on Monday, March 7 from 1:45-3:15 p.m. to talk with an EPA representative and sign your city up for the Challenge.
About the Author: Steve Creech is vice president of Wyland Worldwide and executive director of the non-profit Wyland Foundation. He is a former newspaper reporter, specializing in environmental issues, and co-author of “Hold Your Water: 68 Things You Need to Know to Keep Our Planet Blue” (Andrews McMeel Universal).