Athens-Clarke County was named one of five national winners in the 6th Annual Wyland National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation by encouraging residents to reduce water use by 42.3 million gallons of water over the next year. The annual month-long public awareness campaign to promote drought resiliency and water quality ended on April 30 with mayors from 38 states vying to see whose city could be the nation’s most “water wise.”
In addition to Athens, the cities with the highest percentage of residents making pledges during the campaign included Laguna Beach, Calif., Flagstaff, Ariz., Aurora, Colo., and Dallas, Texas. Overall, residents around the nation, from Anchorage to the Florida Keys, made 421,891 pledges to change behaviors ranging from fixing home leaks to reducing harmful runoff into local rivers and streams.
The challenge, presented by the Wyland Foundation and Toyota, with support from the U.S EPA, National League of Cities, The Toro Company, Earth Friendly Products – maker of ECOS, and Conserva Irrigation, addresses the growing importance of educating consumers about the many ways they use water.
“This year’s challenge took a hard look at things we can all do to reduce our impact on our lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands,” said marine life artist Wyland, who founded the Wyland Foundation in 1993. “The more we can do to reduce harmful runoff into our water systems, the more we can provide long-term sustainable benefits to our communities.”
Residents from winning cities will be entered into a drawing for over $50,000 in water-saving or eco-friendly prizes, including the grand prize, a 2017 Toyota Prius Prime Plug-in Hybrid. Additional prizes include, "Greening Your Home" cleaning kits from Earth Friendly Products (ECOS), home irrigation equipment from the The Toro Company, EcoRain and Eco-Flow Showerheads from Waterpik, and more. A $500 home improvement store shopping spree will also be chosen from among the entire pool of U.S. participants.
In addition to reducing water, challenge participants in 50 states pledged to reduce the use of millions of 4.7 million single-use plastic water bottles and eliminate 114,000 pounds of hazardous waste from entering watersheds. By altering daily lifestyle choices, pledges also resulted in potentially 52.5 million fewer pounds in landfills. Potential savings of 14.6 million gallons of oil, 7.8 billion pounds of carbon dioxide, 156.8 million kilowatt hours of electricity, and $35.5 million in consumer cost savings rounded out the final pledge results.