News Feature | August 25, 2014

'Brown Is The New Green' Motto Of New Conservation Campaign

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, maybe a brown lawn is just as beautiful as a green one. 

That seems to be the idea behind a new ad campaign by the Santa Clara Valley Water District in California. 

Dubbed "Brown is the New Green," the campaign calls on residents to reset to their expectations for what lawns should look like in the drought-plagued region, particularly during the summer months. 

The aim is to persuade residents "to reduce their outdoor watering and let their lawns go a little brown this summer," the district announced in a press release.  "Focusing on how to care for and maintain lawns during this extreme drought, the campaign highlights how a lawn can survive while saving a huge amount of water."

The well-financed campaign was launched as experts predicted an uptick in water usage during the summer.

"Water use is typically up to 60 percent higher during the summer months. Lawns are the worst offenders. Even a small lawn can use more than 18,000 gallons of water per year," CBS San Francisco reported, noting the campaign has $500,000 behind it. 

The district is not authorized to levy fines, so it is trying to use knowledge to motivate residents instead. 

“We don’t have any sort of authority to give out tickets or fines,” said district spokesman Marty Grimes to the Los Altos Town Crier. “Instead, we’re focusing on education. We’ll respond to reports that we get of water waste or violations of any local water-use restrictions. … In most cases, we anticipate that just talking to someone and informing them that they may be violating a water-use restriction will be enough. If it’s not, we can refer the issue to the local city or water retailer.”

Local ratepayers do not have a great track record on conservation. "They cut back water use by 12 percent from February to May, failing to meet the 20 percent statewide target, Grimes said," according to the San Jose Mercury News

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