Water Agencies Team Up To Promote Conservation

The ability to leverage resources and a unified message about saving water are among the partnership's many benefits
Water Agencies Team Up To Promote Conservation
The Drought Drive-Up event in Santa Rosa, California, in July featured free drought tool kits as well as professionals who were on hand to answer questions and provide tips on water conservation.

Interested in Education/Training?

Get Education/Training articles, news and videos right in your inbox! Sign up now.

Education/Training + Get Alerts

Water conservation is a team effort in drought-stricken California.

As water suppliers search for new ways to meet the mandatory water use reductions enacted earlier this year, one group in the northern part of the state has taken a regional approach that has made it possible to combine resources, raise public awareness and provide customers with the knowledge needed to take conservation efforts to the next level.

The Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership consists of 10 cities and water purveyors within Sonoma and Marin counties that all receive water from the Sonoma County Water Agency. Formed back in 2010, the partnership was formed to develop regionwide conservation programs.

The service area within this region has battled three consecutive dry years, including one of the driest Sonoma County has experienced in 120 years, leading to the current drought conditions and low water supply levels at Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma — two of the area’s largest reservoirs.

Together, the coalition is looking to spur change and create new water usage norms with a focus geared toward educating the public, altering everyday actions and behavior, and working hard to save every drop possible.

Collaborative event
One of the big benefits of the Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership has been the ability to provide unified messaging, according to Chris DeGabriele, general manager of the North Marin Water District. “That’s been beneficial because you get a common message not only in different watersheds but in different news sheds where different newspapers cover the stories,” he says.

A recent drought awareness day that included a press conference and Drought Drive-Up event held July 9 at Friedman’s Home Improvement in Santa Rosa is just one example of the partnership in action. Free drought toolkits — including high-efficiency showerheads, faucet aerators and leak detection kits — were handed out to participants, and experts were at the ready to answer questions and provide informational handouts.

The event was held in conjunction with the North Bay Water Sustainability Coalition, a newly formed business-centered partnership that includes the North Bay Leadership Council, Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce, Sonoma County Alliance, and Sonoma County Winegrowers.

“We had a number of speakers talk about this partnership, and I think what was different than most events is that this was the first time you had municipalities and businesses all come together — sharing the microphone, essentially — and supporting each other in this effort,” says David Guhin, director of Santa Rosa Water. “It was a great way to show that we’re all in this together, we all need to do our part, and we’re not pitting one against the other.” 

Bigger picture
Each city in the region has an individual target requirement from the State of California, notes Jennifer Burke, deputy director with Santa Rosa Water, but working together has allowed the ability to leverage resources. Beyond the local programs offered by each of the partners, a number of regionwide options have been made available as well.

Rebates encourage area residents to replace clothes washers with water-efficient models, for example, and most small- and medium-sized organizations can receive free on-site assessments and cost-saving recommendations with the potential to be recognized as a Green Business through the Bay Area Green Business Program.

"Master Gardeners" share their expertise through Garden Sense, a program that provides home visits in order to discuss ways to save water while continuing to nurture a healthy garden. In addition, a Water Wise Gardening website allows visitors to browse through a selection of plants known to thrive in the area. A self-guided Eco-Friendly Garden Tour plugs sustainable landscaping practices by highlighting home gardens that have already gone this route, and a Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL) training program educates landscapers on plant selection as well as irrigation system design, maintenance, programming and operation.

“We’ve really seen a lot of improvements in water-use efficiency and reduction in water use,” Burke says. The Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership as a whole saw a 33 percent reduction in water use during the month of May when compared to the same month back in 2013, she notes.

“We’re successful because of our community, and they really have shown a great interest in implementing water conservation in their homes and businesses for many, many years,” Burke says. "When we’ve asked them to step up in recent years due to the drought they’ve been absolutely willing and are helping us to be successful. And we’re really thankful for their commitment to water-use efficiency.”


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.