Mayor of Davis joins 180 other mayors in taking the Wyland National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation
The month of April is Earth Month, meaning now is the time to go green. During Earth Month, the City of Davis hosts many events with the goal of challenging citizens to make the Earth a greener place. One of those events is the Wyland National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation. The Mayor’s Challenge is a pledge taken by the mayor and citizens of cities across the nation to conserve water for the month of April. At the end of the month, the citizens who took the pledge in the city that saves the most water are eligible for various prizes, including a new Toyota Prius. Davis is currently ranked 14th.
While this is Davis’ first year taking the pledge, the Wyland National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation has been around for six years, having started from humble beginnings.
“We started it almost as an experiment, as part of a living green fair in South Florida,” said Steve Creech, the executive director of the Wyland Foundation. “It had a water footprint calculator that we had come out with, that was designed to accompany one of our museum exhibits. We were at this eco fair and we were talking to the mayor of the city where we were having the fair and he said ‘hey, I love what you guys are doing, and I love that calculator you have. Is there anyway our whole city could get involved and we could count up all the pledges people make, and then challenge another city…’ Everybody had such a good time with it and they were all learning, that we just decided to grow the program.”
The project started small, but it has grown to a much larger scale, with around 180 mayors taking the pledge this year.
“Every year it grows,” Creech said. “This year we have more mayors participating than ever and, I think, we’ve had 1.2 million pledges over the course of the whole program.”
The program started as a friendly competition between a few cities. While this friendly competition remains, Creech made it clear that the purpose of the pledging is for the environment.
“The mayors are really designed to lead in their communities and remind people how important water conservation is and managing our resources is,” Creech said. “The point of all this […] is that we are trying to ensure a reliable, steady supply of water that serves all the needs in our country.”
Robb Davis, Davis’ mayor, held similar sentiments toward the challenge.
“I don’t think we are trying to ‘move up’ [in the competition],” Davis said. “We will keep promoting conservation and lead the way by converting more city turf to low water usage”
Davis also mentioned the respect he had for the people of Davis in their response to the drought.
“I think Davis residents have been responsive to public information on the drought and many have taken action on their own,” Davis said. “Perhaps most importantly, the City Council proposed and passed water rates that are focused on encouraging conservation.”
While the Mayor’s Challenge encourages the mayors of towns and cities to push for water conservation, Creech said that the real conservation comes from everyday people.
“We love to have the mayors, but we actually find that the most participation just comes from random people all throughout the United States,” Creech said.
Regardless, the struggle to conserve water falls into the hands of everyone, not just the mayor.
“The most important thing people can do is reduce their waste, just buy only the food you need,” Creech said. “If you can do that you can conserve massive amounts of water.”
Kate Smith, a first-year Environmental Science and Management major at UC Davis, has been conserving water for quite some time.
“My family and I made a big effort to take quick showers (use a 2:50 minute timer to make sure) and we wash dishes using like, a sink of water rather than letting it run the whole time,” Smith said. “Also, we stopped watering our lawn and I set up a drip irrigation system in our garden at home and at my school garden, which is much more efficient.”