Water conservation focus of local CA campaign

SAN DIEGO: In the water-challenged Southern California region, one municipality is working to encourage residents to conserve.

SAN DIEGO: In the water-challenged Southern California region, one municipality is working to encourage residents to conserve.

The Olivenhain Municipal Water District (OMWD), which serves the 48 square miles of North San Diego County, launched a water conservation education campaign on October 13, with help from PR and marketing firm Cook & Schmid.

"We have water restrictions, and we were having trouble getting the message out to our customers to conserve," said Kimberly Thorner, GM of the OMWD. Cook & Schmid, which was hired in July, conducted a survey of residents to learn more about their habits, knowledge of water conservation, and what would motivate them to conserve.

Based on the survey results, Cook & Schmid designed the "H2O Running Low" logo, which now appears on all water bills in San Diego County and created a drought Web page for the OMWD Web site. Thorner will be blogging on the site, and the campaign will produce e-mail surveys and newsletters, she said. Cook & Schmid is also working to get the OMWD seen as a credible source, putting Thorner and other OMWD executives out in the media.

"One of the messages that we found from our customers is that they would conserve now, rather than being dictated to in the future," Thorner said. So the Web site also features a visual showing customers how restrictions would get worse and become mandatory over time.

The campaign is already seeing results, Thorner said. He reported that water use was down 7% over the past month.

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