Mayor Tom Bate's new water conservation challenge hopes to raise awareness about California's serious drought. Photo: Steve Johnson
A challenge by Mayor Tom Bates and his wife, State Senator Loni Hancock, aims to raise awareness about California’s drought. Photo: Steve Johnson

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates has announced a city-wide water-conservation challenge with the chance for Berkeley residents to win “fame, appreciation, and a free lunch,” the latter with him and his wife, State Senator Loni Hancock.

Bates and Hancock issued the “Bates-Hancock Water Conservation Challenge,” on June 29. The contest pits Berkeleyan against Berkeleyan in a race to see who can reduce their water usage the most in a 2-month billing cycle.

Mayor Bates and Hancock disclosed their own personal water bill which demonstrated that they have reduced their water usage by 68.1% year-on-year in the latest billing period (April 10-June 9) — which equates to 37 gallons per day on average in comparison with 116 gallons in 2013.

Mayor Bates and Loni Hancock’s water bill for April 10-June 10 show a 68.1% reduction from what they used during the same period in 2013. Photo: The Bates Update

Speaking to Berkeleyside Monday, Bates said the conservation competition “could be a good thing” to raise people’s awareness about how their own actions can significantly affect California’s devastating drought. “The idea was to keep the issue of water conservation on people’s minds,” he said. “Hopefully people can break our record!”

“The drought represents a growing emergency,” said Senator Hancock in a statement published in Mayor Bates’ regular Update newsletter. “Each individual can play an important role in addressing it.”

The challenge deadline is July 10, with winners recognized at Council’s July 14 meeting, and is open to Berkeley residents and elected officials residing in the EBMUD service area.

Bates said he might consider the possibility of reviving the challenge in October when the couple receives their next two-month billing cycle statement.

How to enter: If your water bill shows you have reduced your daily water use by more than 68.1% during the last completed billing cycle, email and show them a copy of your bill. (To calculate your reduction percentage, subtract the most recent Gal/Day amount from the 2013 Gal/Day amount, then divide the remainder by the 2013 Gal/Day amount and multiply by 100.) You’ll be recognized at an upcoming Berkeley City Council meeting by Mayor Bates, have a permanent recognition in the City Council records, and, if you are the largest water reducer out of all the entries, you’ll win a free lunch with Bates and Hancock.

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Op-ed: How should water be priced in Berkeley? (04.23.15)

Emily Dugdale, a graduate of Williams College in Williamstown, MA, is a summer intern at Berkeleyside.

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Emily Dugdale

Emily Dugdale is a journalist and graduate student at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York City. She previously lived in Oakland and...