The challenge runs throughout Earth Month, until April 30, and asks participants to show their commitment to conserving natural resources by taking an online pledge.
In last year’s challenge, participants from 1,000 cities in all 50 states made online pledges to save a total of 4.7 billion gallons of water over the next year, with a potential cost savings of $11.6 million, according to organizers. Participants further pledged to reduce their use of single-use plastic water bottles by 1.1 million bottles and eliminate 60,000 pounds of hazardous waste from entering watersheds.
The challenge divides cities into five population categories: 5,000-30,000 residents, 30,000-100,000 residents, 100,000-300,000 residents, 300,000-600,000 residents, and cities with more than 600,000 residents.
One winning city will be selected in each of the five population categories. The grand prize of a Toyota Prius C hybrid will be awarded to one participant from a winning city by random drawing. A second prize drawing for a $1,000 Lowe’s shopping spree will be held among all challenge entries, regardless if a city is among the five winning cities.
Presented nationally by the Wyland Foundation, founded by the environmental artist Wyland, and Toyota, with support from the National League of Cities, CH2M Hill WaterMatch, Rain Bird Corporation, Lowe’s home improvement stores, the EPA, and the US Forest Service, the challenge also provides participants with local conservation resources online.
On World Water Day in March, Ford announced it had reduced the average amount of water used to make each vehicle by 8.5 percent between 2011 and 2012, putting the company more than halfway toward its goal of using an average of 4 cubic meters per vehicle globally by 2015. The automaker says it has achieved these water savings by minimizing consumption at Ford facilities, investing in water technology and finding ways to use alternative, lower-quality water sources.