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When I was talking yesterday to J.C. Davis, the spokesman for the Southern Nevada Water Authority, he offered some insight about the challenges of getting people to conserve water.

Here, the San Diego County Water Authority has not seen an overwhelming response to its call to voluntarily conserve 20 gallons of water daily. The authority is preparing to spend as much as $1.75 million on a public education campaign to get the word out.

In Las Vegas, where the Southern Nevada Water Authority distributes water to 2 million people, residents aren’t allowed to have grass in their front yards; only half of the backyard can be grass.

Ask someone whether they support conserving water, Davis said, and response is always yes. Ask people specifically what they do to save water, he said, and they’ll tell you they turn the water off when they brush their teeth.

That won’t get it done, Davis said.

“If you can get what you want through voluntary, we’d have done it,” he said.

He continued:

The one thing I have discovered, and with absolute certainty it’s true, if you want people to conserve water you have to tell them exactly what to do exactly when you want them to do it. The general call for conservation doesn’t work. Never has, never will.

Davis said the authority refused to sugarcoat its water conservation message. He pointed me to its conservation website.

The site depicts a man scolding a little dog.

ROB DAVIS

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