THE SAN GABRIEL VALLEY WATER SMART CITY CHALLENGE
In response to Governor Jerry Brown’s emergency drought declaration in January 2014, Upper District’s Board of Directors unveiled a creative public outreach campaign that utilized existing conservation programs with innovative outreach components that encouraged cities to promote drought awareness to their residents. The San Gabriel Valley Water Smart City Challenge called upon all 18 cities within Upper District’s service territory to lead by example and adopt best practices for water conservation.
Upon announcing the program in June 2014, twelve cities within Upper District’s service territory eagerly signed up to fulfill eight out of the twelve challenge requirements. The requirements encouraged cities to: bring awareness of the drought to their residents; seek a citywide water use reduction; adopt city policies that contribute to the overall sustainability of the San Gabriel River Watershed; and promote conservation and water-saving rebates for businesses and residents via the Southland’s regional rebate program: www.socalwatersmart.com.
In July 2015, the cities of Azusa, Rosemead, and West Covina received the top honors and each received a $50,000 grant towards a sustainable watershed project from Upper District. In addition, South El Monte, Temple City, Glendora and South Pasadena were also recognized for completing the challenge and received the title of San Gabriel Valley Water Smart City. Each of these cities also received a large landscape survey and retrofit grant for their city halls from Upper District.
In addition to promoting water-saving rebates, participating cities engaged their residents on water conservation and drought awareness through city websites, PSAs, social media and newsletters; hosted high efficiency toilet giveaways with their water retailer; hosted drought-tolerant landscape classes for their residents; and approved municipal ordinances that addressed citywide water conservation standards.
Upon completion of the challenge, rebates paid to residents in Upper District’s service territory increased by almost 1,100%. In fulfilling the challenge requirements, 1,200 free high efficiency toilets were distributed at city events and nine cities hosted gardening classes for their residents. Three cities passed low-impact development storm water ordinances; five cities adopted model water conservation ordinances and 24 city councilmembers and 26 city staff were educated through a variety of Upper District’s water-related forums and events.
Upon completion of the challenge, Upper District received the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments’ “2015 Sustainability Award,” and the California Special Districts Association’s “2015 Excellence in Outreach Award.” Read full press release on these awards here: Press Release
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