California Expands Save Water Public Awareness Campaign

California Expands Save Our Water Public Awareness Campaign as Drought Intensifies

SACRAMENTO – Over the past few months, the state has ramped up communications efforts around the Save Our Water campaign focused on encouraging Californians to reduce water use as drought conditions worsen.  This week, the campaign rolled out new content across various multimedia platforms including social, digital and streaming platforms, out-of-home, and radio.  The multilingual ads communicate the urgent need to save water and provide actionable steps Californians can take.

Today, the state hosted a briefing with more than a dozen social media influencers and content creators calling on them to support the statewide education efforts.  Governor Gavin Newsom joined State Water Resources Control Board Chair Joaquin Esquivel, Department of Water Resources Director Karla Nemeth and Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Chuck Bonham in highlighting the state’s severe drought conditions and calling on influencers to engage Californians on how to save water.

“Make no mistake, California and the entire West are feeling the effects of the intensifying drought – notwithstanding today’s rainfall,” said Governor Newsom.  “We’re putting to work the lessons learned during the last drought, but with our climate getting hotter and drier, it’s critical that we work together to protect our water supply.  Engaging Californians from all walks of life and connecting peer to peer, we can meet this challenge head-on.”

New paid media includes urgency ads in convenience and grocery stores, radio spots in multiple languages including Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese and Hmong, LED billboards across California, and signage at sanitizer stations, among other public awareness efforts.

An example of a new Save Our Water radio spot can be found here.

Following three months of record dry conditions and a rapidly declining snowpack, the April snow survey conducted by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) found that the state snowpack was well below average for that date.  The snowpack has plummeted in recent weeks as unseasonably warm temperatures have hit the Sierra, with snowpack – which provides about a third of California’s water supply – currently at only 25 percent of average for this date.  Dry conditions are impacting every region of the state and many of the state’s reservoirs remain at below average levels following several years of drought.

“California just experienced the driest first three months of the year on record, and drought is worsening throughout the West,” said California Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot.  “Climate-driven water extremes are part of our reality now.  The Save Our Water campaign aims to create a broader and long-term culture of water conservation and highlights the urgency for Californians to take important steps to save water.  From everyday actions like watering less outdoors to switching to low-water plants, there are simple steps we all can take.”

To help encourage more conservation at home, the state has enhanced its Save Our Water campaign following additional state funding allocated in March.  The public education campaign aims to highlight the dire drought conditions and the urgency behind the call for immediate action, including making some permanent water smart changes to homes and yards that offer the biggest ways to save water.

“While the state has made significant investments in tools and technologies to ensure we make the most out of the snowmelt, water conservation remains our best tool in the face of this ongoing drought,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth.  “All Californians must focus on conserving water now.  The Save Our Water campaign will help engage Californians with the information and resources they need.  Saving water today means more water for tomorrow.”

Working to drive conservation at the local level, Governor Newsom last month called on the State Water Board to consider requiring urban water suppliers to activate, at a minimum, Level 2 of their customized Water Shortage Contingency Plans, which require locally-appropriate actions that will conserve water across all sectors.  The Governor also directed the State Water Resources Control Board to consider a ban on the watering of decorative grass at businesses and institutions.

Today’s influencer briefing is part of a larger comprehensive push by the Save Our Water campaign.  The campaign is undertaking a highly targeted statewide education effort to inform Californians about the state’s severe drought and to raise awareness of how they can save water, including updating yards with water-smart plants and drip irrigation, as well as adjusting sprinklers, to water only where needed.  The multilingual campaign includes:

  • A refreshed website highlighting key ways Californians can save the most water as well as other water-saving actions to make both immediate and lasting changes
  • Increased statewide advertising presence with an emphasis on areas with high residential water usage, including digital, radio, print, billboards and retail presence
  • In-language advertising, media engagement and educational materials in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Hmong and Tagalog to spread awareness across California’s diverse communities through trusted communications channels
  • Collaboration with local water agencies and municipalities to increase urgency behind conservation at the regional and state levels through earned media and other communications
  • Partnerships with celebrity and social media influencers and content creators, including celebrated cartoonist Lalo Alcarez, Isabella Ferregur, Jesus Zapien, Monica Villa, Leo Gonzalez, and Mario Lopez, to share easy and practical ways to incorporate saving water into Californians’ daily routines
  • Partnerships with California sports teams, businesses, retailers, and other organizations to expand the reach and visibility of Save Our Water
  • The California WATER WATCH website informing Californians about the hydrological conditions in their own communities and connecting residents with local water suppliers for available incentives and rebates to support water-saving upgrades in the home and yard
  • Coordination with college campuses to amplify the call to save water across generations
    Water-savings resources at community events statewide, including farmers markets, home and garden shows and county fairs