The San Diego County Water Authority today launched www.20gallonchallenge.com, a Web site dedicated to supporting the region's "20-Gallon Challenge" voluntary water conservation initiative. The Water Authority, in collaboration with its 24 member retail water agencies, created the Web site to help educate residents, businesses and public agencies about the urgent need to save water and what they can do to help meet the campaign's goal of reducing the region's water use by 20 gallons of water a day per person.
"The combination of record dry conditions and court-ordered restrictions on pumping water from the Bay-Delta next year present historic challenges to our water supply reliability," said Water Authority Board Chair Fern Steiner. "It has never been more critical for every individual in San Diego County to know what our water supply issues are and to save more water. This new Web site will help them do that."
In addition to offering easy-to-understand menus of water savings tips for residents and businesses, the site invites people to "join" the 20-Gallon Challenge by completing an electronic pledge form where they can select actions to reach or exceed the daily 20-gallon savings goal. Choices range from simple, no-cost steps such as shortening showers and not hosing down sidewalks and driveways, to investing in high-efficiency clothes washers, to replacing all or part of a water-intensive lawn with low-water-use plants.
Other 20gallonchallenge.com features include: Lists of water-saving programs and financial incentives available to residents, business or public agencies; links to updated rain and snowfall levels statewide and current conditions at key reservoirs; conservation- related news and events; and information on "community partners" - companies and organizations who are supporting the 20-Gallon Challenge. The site also provides links and a search tool for each of the Water Authority's 24 retail water suppliers.
The 20-Gallon Challenge is one part of the Water Authority's Drought Management Plan that outlines the steps needed to prepare for a potential multi-year drought. Additional actions under way include maximizing local storage opportunities, seeking one-time water transfer or purchase opportunities, and closely monitoring key reservoir levels and other water supply conditions in California and along the Colorado River.
Currently, about 85 percent of San Diego's water supply is imported, either from the Colorado River through the Colorado River Aqueduct, or from the Sacramento River-San Joaquin River Delta (Bay-Delta) through the State Water Project. The remainder comes from local supplies.
Dry weather conditions have affected all three sources, and on Aug. 31 U.S. District Court Judge Oliver W. Wanger ordered severe restrictions on the massive pumps that move water from the Bay-Delta to 25 million Californians in order to protect threatened fish in the Bay-Delta. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the Water Authority's main water supplier, estimates these restrictions may reduce its Bay-Delta water deliveries by as much as 30 percent in 2008.
"The more water we save now, the more water we can keep in storage to meet next year's needs when water deliveries from the Bay-Delta are being curtailed," Steiner said.
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