Faced with court-ordered cutbacks in water deliveries from Northern California and lingering effects of dry conditions locally and around the West, the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors today approved spending approximately $1.8 million to implement a comprehensive advertising and marketing campaign to promote voluntary water conservation this year and into next spring.
The campaign will be the Water Authority’s largest advertising and marketing effort to promote water conservation since the early 1990s, when a major drought significantly limited imported water supplies to the region. The goal of the current campaign will be to help reduce regional water demand by 56,000 acre-feet through extraordinary conservation measures in 2008 -- a vital part of the Water Authority’s overall strategy to sustain near-term water supply reliability.
“This is one of the most important communications efforts in the history of the Water Authority,” said Water Authority Board Chair Fern Steiner. “We have an urgent need to ramp up, on a large scale, public awareness and action to save more water immediately because we face a challenging combination of water supply problems this year and beyond that recent winter storms did not wash away.
“People need to understand that this is a serious situation, and they have the power to make a big difference in the reliability of our water supply – and the quality of life for our 3 million residents and $157 billion economy – by taking some simple steps to reduce waste and improve efficiency.”
Despite storm activity over the winter, the region’s water supplies remain impacted by extremely dry conditions around California over the last year that significantly reduced storage in key reservoirs, as well as by an eight-year drought in the Colorado River basin. In addition, court-ordered pumping restrictions on the State Water Project, designed to protect the Delta smelt--a threatened fish species--went into effect in December 2007. Additional restrictions were ordered by the California Fish & Game Commission in February 2008 to protect another fish, the longfin smelt. Water officials expect these restrictions to reduce water deliveries from Northern California by up to 30 percent through 2008 and potentially beyond.
The campaign will use a combination of radio, television, outdoor, print and online advertisements, targeted promotions and marketing activities, as well as leveraging online and viral outreach opportunities with various media partners. Ads will feature a variety of creative themes and water-saving tips, along with a message of “Water: Save it or lose it.” The bulk of the advertising will run between May and September, when regional water use is at its highest due to hot weather and the greatest potential for reducing water waste can be realized. The campaign will also be integrated with the Water Authority’s existing educational and community outreach programs.
The campaign also will complement the heightened level of public outreach the Water Authority has in place as part of its “20-Gallon Challenge.” The 20-Gallon Challenge calls for residents and businesses to help the region reduce its water use by 20 gallons per person, per day. Many ads in the campaign also will also refer people to www.20gallonchallenge.com, the Water Authority’s web site dedicated to providing water-saving tips, information on conservation incentives and programs for residents and businesses, as well as information on the region’s water supply. The site will be upgraded with additional features and content to support the campaign.
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