The San Diego County Water Authority agreed today to spend as much as $1.8 million on a media campaign to encourage county residents to save water this summer.

The authority, which launched a voluntary water conservation last summer dubbed the “20-Gallon Challenge,” largely piggybacked on a campaign funded by the Metropolitan Water District. The latest campaign, which aims to get residents to save 56,000 acre feet — enough for 112,000 homes for a year — will come from the authority’s own budget and emphasize the message “Water: Save it or lose it.”

The effort will purchase advertising on radio, television, online, in print and outdoors, in its largest push to conserve water since the drought that struck Southern California from 1987 to 1992. Most ads will run between May and September, when the region’s water use peaks.

While snowpack levels in the Sierra Nevada have been normal so far this winter, a federal court ruling limiting water exports from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta will reduce the region’s water supply. The authority has said that saving water this year could help forestall shortages next year.

ROB DAVIS

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