INCREASING WATER CONSERVATION HABITS WITH ‘THE 40 GALLON CHALLENGE’:
AN INCENTIVE-BASED EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM
Brannon, R.L. 1, Carson, D. T. 2, Hicks, M.C. 3, Pugliese,* P.J.4, Varlamoff, S.M. 5, White, Z.M. 6 Program Results, Impact, and Evaluation:
Potential water savings were documented with the “40 gallon challenge” pledge cards and follow up surveys to edu-
President, Cherokee County Master Gardener Association, Cherokee County, Canton, Georgia 30114 cational seminars. To date, over 300 people have completed the 40 gallon challenge and total pledges currently ex-
Construction Coordinator, Cherokee Water & Sewerage Authority, Cherokee County, Canton, Georgia 30114 ceed saving 12,000 gallons per day, which is equivalent to 4.4 million gallons per year.
Stormwater Coordinator, Cherokee County Public Works, Cherokee County, Canton, Georgia 30114 Also, the 50 rain barrels given away as door prizes to pledge participants will result in immediate measurable water
Extension Agent, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, Cherokee County, Canton, Georgia 30114 savings based on the annual number of local rain events. Because of the relatively small size of the rain barrels, each
Director, Office of Environmental Sciences, University of Georgia, Clarke County, Athens, Georgia 30602 rain event would likely fill a 55 gallon rain barrel. A conservative estimate of 2,000 gallons of water could be captured
Grounds Manager, Reinhardt College Physical Plant, Cherokee County, Waleska, Georgia 30183 and saved per rain barrel per year. This could potentially save 100,000 gallons of water per year used for outdoor wa-
ter use in Cherokee County. This captured rain water also diverts potential runoff, being converted into valuable irriga-
Abstract: tion water. This captured rain water reduces runoff, thus improving water quality, and improves the water use efficiency
Increasing soil and water conservation habits of residents in Cherokee County was the primary goal of this project. of local landscapes.
With the current drought situation and potential for continued water restrictions throughout 2007 and 2008, there was a A follow up evaluation survey was conducted 6 months after initial pledges were taken to program participants. This
critical need for educational programs on household and landscape water conservation. The Cherokee Extension ANR survey was emailed to 246 participants with a return of 51 surveys completed or a 21% response rate. 100% of the
Program Development Team sought grant funding to assist with planned community education seminars for 2008-2009 survey respondents said “yes” when asked if they Chart 1: Use of home or landscape water saving
as well as a concept program known as “The 40 Gallon Challenge”. Grant funds were utilized to build 50 rain barrels would continue to follow any water conservation prac- practices prior to and after taking
that were given away through a random drawing to local citizens that completed pledge cards to save a minimum of 40 tices that they had pledged. 90% of the survey re- The 40 Gallon Challenge
gallons of water per day. Rain barrels were important in serving as model demonstrations for the community and had spondents said “yes” when asked if they had shared
real returns on conserving water quantity and improving water quality. The pledge cards and rain barrel giveaway any of their water saving techniques with friend or
served as incentive-based educational tools. These tools complemented our local Cherokee County Master Gardener neighbors as a result of this program. 98% of the sur- 80%
Speaker’s Bureau for 2008, during which they promoted and emphasized teaching water conservation measures vey respondents said “yes” that they thought this Percent of Total 70%
through local seminars and plant clinics. Educational impact of increasing water conservation habits was measured pledge program was practical and worthwhile. And Respondents 60% 50% PRIOR
through the 40 gallon challenge pledge cards and seminar surveys. Follow up surveys were conducted 6 months after 94% of survey respondents also said “yes” that they 40% AFTER
seminars to randomly selected participants. To date, over 300 people have completed the 40 gallon challenge and total would be interested in participating in other incentive- 30%
pledges currently exceed saving 12,000 gallons per day, which is equivalent to 4.4 million gallons per year! based conservation practices. A summary of other 10%
survey questions and responses can be found in 0%
Not at all Rarely Occasionally Sometimes Frequently
Introduction: charts 1 through 3. Response
The 2007 drought that affected Georgia most severely affected Cherokee and surrounding counties in Northwest
Georgia. Less than half the average annual rainfall was received in 2007 and drought conditions continued well into
2008. To address the severe nature of this drought situation and ongoing state water restrictions, the Cherokee Exten- Chart 2: Did any of the water conservation
sion ANR Program Development Team recognized a critical need to create an education and outreach program to practices that you pledged to practice save
teach local citizens ways to conserve residential water use. water, money, or time?
Grant funding from the Georgia Association of Water Professionals Water Wise Council was awarded to the Chero-
kee County Extension ANR Program Development Team to implement a program to address local needs for education Definitely a lot
on water conservation. The “40 Gallon Challenge” was initiated on March 15, 2008 upon receiving a grant award of Possibly a lot
Possibly some Saved Time
Program Methods: Not at all
This project was designed to encourage local residents to complete a home water audit by taking “The 40 Gallon
Challenge” and pledging to save a minimum of 40 gallons per day with various water saving techniques. This self-audit
checklist provided an estimate of water savings that would result from implementation of various water saving prac- 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60%
tices, thus providing a total daily savings for the pledge cards. The reason behind challenging people to save a mini- Percent of Total Respondents
mum of 40 gallons was two-fold. First, this was thought to be a reasonable expectation for daily water savings based
on the recommended water saving practices in the home water audit. Second, when 40 gallons per day is multiplied by Chart 3: How many thousands of gallons per
30 days it adds up to just over 1,000 gallons per month, which would provide an easy way to document the amount of month did you save after implementing new water
water saved since most water providers bill in thousand gallon increments. The incentive for completing the pledge saving practices (most water bills are in 1,000
cards was that they also served as entry into a drawing to win free rain barrels and other water saving door prizes! gallon increments)?
This program was also utilized as a teaching tool in conjunction with 21 educational seminars provided annually by the
Cherokee County Master Gardeners, a group of trained and certified horticulture volunteers through the Cherokee 3,000+
County Cooperative Extension office.
Participants completed the “40 Gallon Challenge” pledge card which served as entry into a drawing to win a free rain
barrel and other donated water-saving door prizes. Only residents who pledged saving 40 gallons or more were eligi- 1,000
ble to win these door prizes. The pledge cards provided practical home (indoor) and landscape (outdoor) water conser- None saved.
vation solutions that the participant could use as a “self audit” of their current home water use and ideally take home to No new practices used.
implement. The pledge card/contest entry information was also used for a follow up survey to contact individuals and 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80%
poll them on whether they in fact implemented any of the water saving practices and estimate potential water savings Percent of Total Respondents
that they incurred.
Used food grade syrup barrels were purchased from Atlanta Coca-Cola Company and transported via a U-Haul Program Conclusions:
truck rental to Canton, GA. These barrels were stored locally at the American Legion Fairgrounds cattle show barn with This project was successfully shared with the community through local partnerships and cooperative efforts to pro-
their permission. Each month, four names were randomly selected to receive rain mote the “40 Gallon Challenge” as well as through local educational seminars offered by the Cherokee Master Garden-
barrels. It was quickly determined that program participants who won rain barrels ers. Grant funding for this project will continue to allow rain barrels to be given away throughout 2009. Many local busi-
preferred customizing their own rain barrels to suit their individual needs for down nesses and community residents were exposed to “water smart” concepts and water saving techniques. The goal will
spout location, hose bib direction, etc. Therefore, we created rain barrel kits with be to continue to utilize local partnerships and challenge them to get as many pledge cards completed as possible dur-
all of the basic parts and instructions on how to assemble and customize installa- ing the next year.
tion of their rain barrel. Long term sustainability of this project will include continued use of the “40 gallon challenge” pledge cards annually,
The Cherokee County Master Gardener speaker’s bureau conducted four soil seeking additional door prize donations from local businesses in future years, and utilizing four soil and water conser-
and water conservation seminars for the general public and utilized surveys, in vation seminars that were developed as part of the annual Cherokee Master Gardener seminar series. It is anticipated
addition to the 40 Gallon Challenge pledge cards, and follow-up surveys to gauge that this project might gain interest in being replicated with other counties and local communities interested in adopting
educational impact and knowledge gained from these programs. The Master Gar- similar incentive-based educational tools.
dener speaker’s bureau also provided lectures to garden clubs, civic groups, and
other community organizations upon request. These classes and lectures fo- Selected References:
cused on the following topics: 1) water wise gardening for the home landscape; 2) “Do It Yourself Household Water Assessment.” (n.d.). Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District Water Supply
native and drought resistant plants; 3) composting/mulching; 4) rain barrels and and Water Conservation Plan, Georgia Department of Natural Resources Water Conservation Plan Guidelines.
efficient irrigation use. The Cherokee County Master Gardener website maintains
a listing of upcoming annual seminar dates and current speaker’s bureau topics Jordan, C.W. (July 1994). “Conserving Water at Home.” University of Georgia, Circular 819-1.
online at: www.ugaextension.com/cherokee/MasterGardeners “The 20-Gallon Challenge.” (19 September 2007). San Diego County Water Authority. Retrieved 26 October 2007,
The Cherokee County Master Gardeners also provided several plant clinics at from <http://www.20gallonchallenge.com>.
local hardware stores, nurseries, and farmer’s markets using the “40 Gallon Challenge” theme. They encouraged the
public to complete pledge cards and place them in an entry box to win rain barrels. These plant clinics also provided Turner, P.R. (January 2008). “Every Drop Counts: Conserve Water At Home.” University of Georgia Cooperative Exten-
other educational displays and various publications on water conservation to the public. sion Water Conservation Banner Program Publication.