Executive Summary for November 17th

For an overview of the latest news on the California drought, we’ve organized the most recent developments in a curated summary, including the most important stories, analysis and data. Our goal is to keep you informed of the day’s most significant events in the field.

Published on Nov. 17, 2015 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Secret to Conservation? Get on the Bandwagon

One of the oldest strategies in advertising is to convince customers they are not just spending money, but joining a special club when they buy your breakfast cereal or your SUV. You want to give them a feeling of exclusivity, but more than that: a sense of belonging.

In the old days, this was known as the “get on the bandwagon” approach. Convince people to join your parade, and they will open their wallets.

And it turns out the same message works with water conservation.

We recently reported on a study by psychologists at Cal State San Marcos, which found the most powerful conservation message was the one that called for “collective action” by asking people to sign a pledge (join a club) to achieve a certain water conservation goal. This achieved a 6.5 percent overall water saving, compared to other approaches that achieved only 2.5 percent.

Now there’s more anecdotal information that joining the club works. The city of Ventura more than doubled its state water conservation requirement – largely because it convinced residents water conservation was the trendy thing to do.

The city launched a “dirty car” campaign: Don’t wash your car, and send in photos of your filthy ride, with a monthly prize draw for those who submit. Now the city is launching a new campaign focusing on saving water in the shower: Submit your favorite shower song that’s five minutes or shorter.

Local jewelry store owner Debbie Fox got so excited by the city’s efforts that she launched her own campaign called “Gold Is the New Green.” She encouraged residents to stop watering their lawns, then send in a photo of their brown grass to be eligible for a $1,000 shopping spree in her store. She even hosted her own water conservation event in August and invited the city to participate.

In other words, join my special club with your dirty car, your shower ditty or your dead lawn.

“Not the typical thing government does,” Shana Epstein, general manager of Ventura’s water agency, told the Los Angeles Times.

Wildfire Concern Lingers into Winter

California firefighting officials are continuing to keep staffing and equipment levels up even as the state transitions into the cooler and wetter months.

“We can’t let our guard down, especially with changing climate conditions leading to longer fire seasons and larger wildfires,” CalFire director Ken Pimlott said in a statement.

Although the agency has begun to close some seasonal fire stations, it is maintaining staffing that “meets the current threat” and is bracing to mobilize additional resources if necessary.

CalFire and other agencies have battled a total of 6,100 wildfires so far this year, about 1,800 more than in an average year.

Gifts Aimed at Your Water Challenges

You know water scarcity is starting to become a “thing” when it reveals itself in holiday shopping lists. And so it has this year, in the form of a few select items on an annual gift guide offered by Goop, a lifestyle website operated by none other than actress Gwyneth Paltrow.

Leading the list is the Aquaovo Ruby Water Filter, a $1,100 household ceramic accessory, crafted in France, which sits on a tinted glass base made in Canada and holds 2.9 gallons. Its two egg-shaped white ceramic orbs look like a couple of eggs stacked on top of each other. The device’s glass-encased filter cartridge claims to screen 99.9999 percent of impurities from tap, river or lake water, including bacteria and viruses. It comes with only one filter cartridge. Three more (a year’s supply) cost an additional $99.

A bit further down the list is a Stanley 64oz. Classic Growler, suitable for water or beer. This stainless steel “bad boy” (Stanley’s description) costs $50 – a mere stocking stuffer for the wealthy.

The gift list isn’t limited to water-related trinkets. New York Magazine attempts to divine a theme running through Gwyneth’s list toward items designed to help the wealthy survive the apocalypse. It’s all in fun, and most of the magazine’s inferences are a stretch. Such as 18-carat-gold dumbbells for $125,000 and a crystal fireplace log set for $330. It’s a mystery how these help anyone when the end of the world is nigh.

One, however, literally delivers an escape from your mundane resource challenges: Nieman Marcus is marketing rides aboard a space capsule tethered to a gas balloon that will soar beyond Earth’s atmosphere to an altitude of 100,000 feet. You can bring five friends, there’s a bathroom on board – and a bar, of course. The price? Well, as they say, if you have to ask…

Top image: One of several “dirty car” photos submitted to the city of Ventura as part of a water conservation campaign. (City of Ventura)

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