Athens-Clarke County was named one of five national winners in the 8th Annual Wyland National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation. As part of the challenge, residents pledged to reduce their water use by 73.2 million gallons of water over the next year and to undertake behaviors ranging from fixing home leaks to reducing harmful runoff into local rivers and streams.
The annual month-long public awareness campaign to improve drought resiliency and water quality was promoted by the Athens-Clarke County Water Conservation Office and ended on April 30 with mayors from 35 states vying to see whose city could be the nation’s most "water wise."
"The challenge is about reminding people across the country that we all need to work together to manage our water resources," said marine life artist Wyland, who founded the Wyland Foundation in 1993. "The campaign shows that there are many ways to do that, but it all starts with simple actions that most of us can do every day that make a big difference over time."
Residents from winning cities will now be entered into a drawing for thousands of dollars in water-saving or eco-friendly prizes, including $3,000 toward their annual home utility bill, "Greening Your Home" cleaning kits from Earth Friendly Products (ECOS), home irrigation equipment from The Toro Company, and a water fixture makeover for a local school from Ecosystems LLC. A $500 home improvement store shopping spree will also be chosen from among the entire pool of U.S. participants. Additionally, participating residents were asked to nominate a deserving charity in their community to receive a 2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid.
Residents from Athens-Clarke County also pledged to reduce their use of 202,756 single-use plastic water bottles and eliminate 4,340 pounds of hazardous waste from entering watersheds. By altering daily lifestyle choices, residents pledged to send 1.9 million fewer pounds of waste to area landfills. Potential savings of 550,000 gallons of oil, 315 million pounds of carbon dioxide, 4.7 million kilowatt hours of electricity, and $941,655 in consumer cost savings rounded out the final pledge results.
In addition to reducing water use, Athens-Clarke County collected more pledges than Gainesville, FL to win a friendly wager between the two cities, thus ensuring ACC Mayor Kelly Girtz would not have to don orange and blue while doing the "Gator Chomp" during a future Mayor and Commission meeting. Instead, Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe will wear red and black while "Calling the Dawgs" at an upcoming Gainsville City Commission meeting.
Athens-Clarke County won in the population category of 100,000 to 299,999. Other winners were Rexburg, ID (5,000-29,999); Palm Coast, FL (30,000-99,999); Tucson, AZ (300,000-599,999); and Columbus, OH (600,000+). For more information on the challenge, visit www.mywaterpledge.com.
The challenge, presented by the Wyland Foundation and Toyota, with support from the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, National League of Cities, The Toro Company, Earth Friendly Products – maker of ECOS, Ecosystems, LLC, and Conserva Irrigation, addresses the growing importance of educating consumers about the many ways they use water.
Founded in 1993 by environmental artist Wyland (best known for his series of 100 monumental marine life murals), the Wyland Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting, protecting, and preserving the world’s ocean, waterways, and marine life. The foundation encourages environmental awareness through community events, education programs, and public art projects. For more information, visit www.wylandfoundation.org.