Started seven years ago in Cherokee County, the challenge later went national with a website, www.40gallonchallenge.org, that encourages friendly competition among participating states. County Extension Coordinator Paul Pugliese was a founder of the program when he worked in Cherokee and he has continued conservation efforts after moving to Bartow.
“It’s an educational tool that we use to try to show people some simple ways they can conserve water, both inside their home and outdoors in the landscape,” Pugliese said of the challenge. “Of course, four or five years ago that was a much more important topic with the drought on the forefront. Right now that’s not as popular as a topic; still, water conservation is one of the things that we should always be conscious of, and try to conserve that, because it is a limited natural source.”
While the high amount of precipitation has caused its own set of problems for agriculture, Pugliese said it should not lead Bartow County residents to think water conservation is no longer needed.
“Sooner or later we will have a drought again, that’s just typical for Georgia’s weather, and if we keep people in the habit and practice of conserving water, that’s always a good thing,” he said.
According to the 40 Gallon Challenge website, Georgia is second only to Texas in numbers of pledges with 1,604 people pledging to save 40 gallons per day. The website states those numbers translate to 316,017 gallons of water saved every day.
In the case of Bartow County, 30 pledges were recorded as of press time, with 5,134 gallons saved per day.
“The 40 Gallon Challenge, the whole point is, to actually conserve 40 gallons of water per day in your house. Actually, a lot of people can do that with just three or four clicks of the buttons. You can figure out ways you can save 40 gallons very quickly,” Pugliese said.
By clicking on Georgia and selecting Bartow County, those interested in taking the challenge will find ways to save water such as fixing leaky bathroom fixtures, reducing irrigation runtimes and installing water-saving devices. The website will automatically calculate how much water every action is predicted to save and give participants a goal.
As the challenge is designed to save 40 gallons per day, Pugliese said the savings could quickly add up for participants. In an average month, those who take part could save approximately 1,200 gallons of water.
“Most of your water bills, you’ll find, are actually billed in thousand gallon increments, and so you would actually see on down a whole thousand gallons on that bill cycle. If you actually did what you pledge, probably, it would be visible on your water savings,” Pugliese said.
Pugliese urged residents to take part in the 40 Gallon Challenge and save a limited resource.
“I just encourage them to, if they haven’t gone online, or tried it, it’s easy, it’s painless, it doesn’t cost anything and it’s a fun activity,” he said. “The whole family can sit around the computer and learn ways to conserve water and help out the environment.
“We’re limited on a lot of different natural resources, not just water, but energy and gas and oil and everything else we depend on, and it’s just one of the many ways we can help the environment and kind of give back, in a way. So I would encourage people to take advantage of it.”