The city of Baton Rouge, La., was named one of five national winners in the 7th Annual Wyland National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation by pledging to reduce their water use by 32.7 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 35 states vying to see whose city could be the nation’s most “water wise.”
In addition to Baton Rouge, the cities with the highest percentage of residents making pledges during the campaign included Gallup, New Mexico; Westminster, Cal.; Tucson, Ariz.; and Las Vegas, Nev. Overall, residents around the nation, from Anchorage to the Florida Keys, made 618,444 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, and Conserva Irrigation, addresses the growing importance of educating consumers about the many ways they use water.
“The challenge is a serious reminder to everyone about the importance of water to our cities and our country,” said marine life artist Wyland, who founded the Wyland Foundation in 1993. “This year we encouraged people to think about their consumption practices and see if they could find new ways to reduce pollution runoff and limit waste.”
Residents from winning cities will now be entered into a drawing for thousands of dollars in water-saving or eco-friendly prizes, including $5,000 toward their annual home utility bill, "Greening Your Home" cleaning kits from Earth Friendly Products (ECOS), and home irrigation equipment from The Toro Company. A $500 home improvement store shopping spree will also be chosen from among the entire pool of United States participants. Additionally, participating residents were asked to nominate a deserving charity in their community to receive a 2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.
In addition to reducing water, challenge participants in 50 states pledged to reduce the use of 8 million single-use plastic water bottles and eliminate 177,000 pounds of hazardous waste from entering watersheds. By altering daily lifestyle choices, pledges also resulted in potentially 79.9 million fewer pounds in landfills. Potential savings of 22.2 million gallons of oil, 12.6 billion pounds of carbon dioxide, 191.9 million kilowatt hours of electricity, and $38.4 million in consumer cost savings rounded out the final pledge results.