Residents across the United States took part in the 2023 Wyland National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation, April 1-30, by pledging to save billions of gallons of water over the next year. The annual campaign to promote water quality and water resource resiliency ended with mayors from 42 states vying to see whose city could be the nation’s most “water wise.”
The cities with the highest percentage of residents making pledges during the campaign included Laguna Beach, Calif., Northport, Fla., Gainesville, Fla, Tucson, Ariz., and two-time winer Houston, Tex. Overall, residents around the nation made more than 420,000pledges to change behaviors ranging from fixing home leaks to reducing harmful runoff into local rivers and streams
The challenge, presented by the Wyland Foundation, with support from the U.S EPA, National League of Cities, The Toro Company, and Zenni Optical, addresses the growing importance of educating consumers about the many ways they use water.
Clean water, a healthy ocean, and sustainable resources remain one of the keys to a brighter future for everyone in the United States and around the World. “With so much happening around the country, we were thrilled to see people voicing their support for the conservation and protection of our nation’s water systems and other natural resources,” said marine life artist Wyland, who founded the Wyland Foundation in 1993. “They know that environmental stewardship takes year-round effort.”
About the Program
Whether it’s drought conditions in the West or the high costs of energy related to water use in the East, saving water has become one of the most talked about issues in the nation today. The National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation was created to reward residents for positive conservation behavior, provide immediate feedback with real-time city by city results that can be measured against their neighboring cities, set goals to promote positive changes in consumer behavior and put a spotlight on public role models to encourage behavioral change.
- Save costs for consumers
- Save infrastructure and operating costs for cities
- Promote drought resiliency
- Protect watersheds and ecosystems
In the wake of the current pandemic, the campaign provides residents with more opportunities to get involved safely from home, including making water-friendly lifestyle changes on behalf of their city, undertaking home-based environmental projects that add up to cleaner, safer communities, and sharing tips and strategies with friends and neighbors. Moreover, residents also learn about resources in their area to take their commitment of conservation even further, from regional water and energy resource issues, to cost-saving tips at home. As part of the program, city staff can do as much or as little as their time allows. Either way, by simply being involved and committing to the Challenge, you’re leading your city’s residents to take the necessary steps to become better-informed and more active stewards of the community and our natural resources.
How It Works
- Residents go to www.mywaterpledge.com
- Take a 4-step conservation pledge on behalf of the city
- See city’s current standings
- Encourage their friends to take part
The city with the highest percentage of residents who take the challenge in their population category wins. Cities will compete in the following population categories:
- 5,000 – 29,999
- 30,000 – 99,999
- 100,000 – 299,999
- 300,000 – 599,999
Participants in the winning cities are eligible to win hundreds of prizes. Last year, the challenge awarded more than $50,000 in prizes to nearly 300 residents in U.S. cities. Most importantly, participants see the enormous impact they can have on their community by taking simple actions to save water and energy. This year, the campaign will put a spot light on student participation, with students from thousands of schools across the country making water conservation commitments together with their teachers that directly support their city’s standings. As a special prize for students, one school from each winning city will receive 100 pairs of Zenni Remakes™ eyeglasses that help reduce damage to eyes from prolonged exposure to blue light. Each pair is made from the recycled plastics equal to three discarded single use plastic water bottles.
The mayor’s challenge includes an array of community-based prizes that vary from year to year. In addition to our annual national prizes, cities may take part in localized, breakaway challenges sponsored by local partners.
- In Orange County, Calif., Municipal Water District of OC presented a breakaway pocket park challenge in 2020 for its 28 member agencies.
- In Dallas, the foundation and its partners provided a water-efficient landscape makeover for a 20,000 square foot interior courtyard for Nancy Cochran Elementary School of Dallas, TX. The project broke ground on with Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. The interior courtyard at the school was refashioned with Texas native trees, plants and grasses, decomposed granite pathways, low-cost water efficient irrigation and weather sensors, and student gardens for each grade. Texas Land Care of Dallas and the Toro Company contributed installation services and irrigation, respectively, with underwriting for the project from the Wyland Foundation, Toyota and a grant from Melody and David Howell. The school can expect to save over 250,000 gallons of water a year versus a conventional irrigated lawn area of the same size.
Local- And Home-Based Volunteer Projects To Do Year Round
See how our newest support program, MyVolunteer Water Project, continues the progress made by participating cities. This innovative application allows people to undertake home-community-, and workplace-based projects that support every city’s efforts for clean water and a healthy environment. Best of all, when your residents do projects throughout the year, your entire city earns headstart points in the annual Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation
Why Your City Needs To Get Involved
- With no costs to cities or tax-payers, the Mayor’s Challenge offers a compelling, positive way to motivate residents to conserve water and energy resources.
Creates a legacy for you and your city by reaffirming your commitment to protecting natural resources and reducing your city’s “water footprint.”
- Recognizes and rewards your residents who are committed to making a difference in your community. Residents can save money, help your city meet conservation goals, discover water-related issues affecting your region — and earn a chance to win water-saving prizes – including $3,000 in paid utilities.
- Ties in with state and national water, energy, and GHG management plans, such as California’s AB32 or Texas’ SB 184.
- Shares best communication practices to promote consumer water stewardship in your community.
2025 Wyland National Mayor's Challenge
(U.S. Mayors; City Leaders Only)
Although the program is on hiatus for updates this year, we encourage you to plan to participate in 2025. You can start by signing the letter of support now for next year’s campaign and we’ll send you additional information, promotion materials, one-of-a-kind water saving activities for your residents, and ideas for making the national water challenge a success in your city.
“As a leader committed to efficient use of natural resources, I support the mission of the Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation, a non-profit national community service program, and in so doing renew my commitment to sustainability for my city and for future generations.”
Mike Rawlings, Mayor of Dallas, TX
The County of Hawai’i recognizes the precious nature of our water resources, and strongly supports water conservation initiatives. Our County water utility, the Department of Water Supply, is participating in the WaterSmart program, which strives to educate consumers in the wise use of water. The online program provides water-saving tips and messages tailored to customers in the drier West Side of our multi-climate island. The motto of our Department of Water Supply, “Ka Wai A Kane,” (“Water, our most precious resource”) expresses very well the deeply-understood importance of protecting and conserving the life-giving water with which we are blessed.
— Harry Kim, Mayor of Hilo, HI
Grand Rapids is home to Michigan’s largest watershed – the Grand River, which runs through our downtown. That, coupled with our close proximity to Lake Michigan, we recognize the importance of protecting our fresh water resources. I encourage all citizens to join me in this pledge. Your small choices, when multiplied again and again, make a significant difference in ensuring our city’s sustainability for generations to come.
— Rosalynn Bliss, Mayor of Grand Rapids, MI
Conservation is an integral part of the City of Aurora’s water planning and management of this most precious resource. With the ever increasing demands on limited water resources, the National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation has underscored our residents’ commitment to the ongoing sustainability and conservation of our water. Aurorans have really stepped up to win this challenge two years in a row. We’re looking forward to our third victory this year.
— Steve Hogan, Mayor of Aurora, CO
The City of Dallas values water conservation efforts, which is why we are continuing to participate in the National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation. Conserving water is a critical piece in securing resources for generations to come and our residents understand the importance of this effort. Continuing this effort will enable residents to conserve and protect our water resources.
— Mike Rawlings, Mayor of Dallas, TX