San Diego Zoo Global and San Diego County Water Authority Join Forces to Combat Drought

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San Diego Zoo Global and Water Authority Join Forces

San Diego Zoo Global and the San Diego County Water Authority today announced new outreach efforts at the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park to encourage water conservation as statewide drought conditions become more severe. Three consecutive dry years and record-setting heat in 2014 have stretched California’s water supplies thin, forcing water agencies to draw down reservoirs and enact mandatory water conservation measures to save as much as possible for 2015.

The partnership is part of the regional campaign “When in Drought: Save every day, every way.” It will include: updated signs at both Zoo parks that emphasize water-smart practices; water conservation reminders during bus and tram tours; and social media posts that highlight California’s water supply challenges while encouraging park supporters to conserve water. The messages include real-world examples of water conservation efforts such as Safari Park gardens that feature native species and low-water-use plants.

“The Zoo’s leadership is remarkable on two fronts: the first is its commitment to conserve and recycle water at its facilities long before the current drought began. The second is its willingness to use its considerable influence to inspire the rest of us to conserve wherever we can,” said Mark Weston, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “That’s the kind of leadership and engagement it will take across our region and state to weather this drought while preserving the economy and quality of life that we value in San Diego County.”

San Diego Zoo Global’s two local parks attract more than 4.5 million visitors a year and promote worldwide initiatives to bring species back from the brink of extinction. Those efforts include on-site conservation of plants and animals at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as field programs on six continents. That critical conservation and science work is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

“As a conservation organization, San Diego Zoo Global has always looked at ways to ensure that it is conserving natural resources like water in its daily operations,” said Doug Myers, president and CEO of San Diego Zoo Global. “Although we use water for cleaning and as an integral part of our animal habitats, we also recycle water and reduce water use wherever possible.”

For instance, San Diego Zoo Global recycles more than 16 million gallons of water annually and uses that water to support its horticultural collection at the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.  In addition, the Zoo uses water-saving technologies such as low-flow toilets, water reclamation ponds and evaporation-reducing mulch around plants.

The Water Authority is a public agency serving the San Diego region as a wholesale supplier of water from the Colorado River and Northern California. It works through its 24 member agencies to provide a safe, reliable water supply to support the region’s $206 billion economy and the quality of life of 3.1 million residents.

The Water Authority also plays an important role in coordinating regional drought response actions. The current Drought Alert condition calls for local water agencies to implement mandatory water-use restrictions if they have not already done so. The When in Drought web page, whenindrought.org, includes links to member agency websites with details about water-use restrictions in communities across the region along with resources such as rebate offers to improve water conservation at home and at work.

The Water Authority is not anticipating reductions to its imported water supplies this year that would trigger mandatory supply cutbacks to its member agencies. Allocations could happen in 2015 if conditions don’t improve this winter, but two decades of regional investments in water supply reliability such as independent Colorado River water transfers and the Carlsbad Desalination Project will help reduce the impacts of any reductions in imported water supplies.