News Feature | May 6, 2014

Utilities Take Varied Approaches To Conservation Outreach

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome


In a year of record-breaking droughts across the country, water officials have launched a variety of campaigns urging ratepayers to conserve. 

An ongoing campaign by the Southern Nevada Water Authority promotes conservation by stressing the value of water. 

The campaign urges Southern Nevadans "to 'stay water smart' by considering the tangible values of water as well as the intangibles. The multimedia campaign asks,'What does water bring to the desert?' and then proceeds to provide answers like 'family' and 'jobs' as well as 'life' and 'future,'" according to the New York Times, which recently featured the effort in its "campaign spotlight" column. 

The ads feature a desert landscape in the background. The campaign has been created by R&R Partners in Las Vegas, the water authority's longtime ad agency, the report said.  

In other parts of the country, water officials urging conservation have taken strikingly different approaches. 

In late April, the the San Diego County Water Authority launched a new ad campaign focused on the drought, opting to start out by thanking customers. Its community-oriented approach may inspire a sense of duty. 

"The campaign's goal is to thank our community and to motivate them a little bit more to save water where they can," San Diego County Water Authority General Manager Maureen Stepleton said to CBS 8.  "The bottom line is that we need to work together to build a more drought-resistant region."

The campaign provides practical advice to ratepayers. "The water authority released a list of 10 things residents can do to conserve. Among them, use a cover for your pool or spa, taker shorter showers, and only run the dishwasher when full. That last tip could save you between two and four and a half gallons a load," the report said. 

Colorado Springs Utilities recently launched a conservation campaign, as well. "Utilities will roll out a $600,000 conservation campaign encouraging residents to water their lawns three days a week or less," the Gazette reported

This campaign is unique. It arrives after a snowy winter alleviated some of the effects of water scarcity in this region.  Unlike previous years, there are no mandatory water restrictions in place for consumers. 

So, then, why promote conservation at all? It's because the area's water-rich conditions could actually backfire. 

"There is a concern, that people will say 'we are not in restrictions' and will use more water," said Patrice Lehermeier, a spokeswoman for Colorado Springs Utilities, said to the Gazette. "We don't want that rebound effect."

Image credit: "home is where the sprinkler is," ** RCB ** © 2013, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: