Hermosa Beach Mayor Howard Fishman is not above a little smack talk when it comes to defending the city's title in the Wyland Foundation's National Mayor's Challenge for Water Conservation, but he is dead serious about encouraging residents and others to conserve water.
"We're ready to take on all challengers," Fishman said. "We are the defending champions. You're going to have to knock us down."
This is the third year for the competition that began in Florida, said Steve Creech, executive director of the Wyland Foundation, a charitable group founded by the artist Wyland, known for his murals and paintings of whales and sea life. The competition is simple: residents go to www.mywaterpledge.com, sign up and agree to make simple changes, such as fixing leaky faucets, and installing singing shorter songs in the shower. The city with the largerst percentage of sign-ups wins.
"Last year we did it in Southern California and we worked out a few kinks," Creech said. "This year, we have three population groups so it makes it a little more equitable."
Hermosa Beach is competing in the 5,000 - 30,000 population group. Creech said that, actually, smaller communities have a slight advantage over larger cities in that they have fewer people to reach.
Another thing that is new this year is that the competition is now national.
"This is our first national challenge and we knew it would be really hard," said Wyland. "Our ultimate goal is to get a billion gallons of water [saved] pledged."
But Fishman said it isn't just about signing up for city pride and some cool prizes, including a new Prius.
"I hope that the people who are signing up are not signing up for the prizes but are signing up for water conservation," Fishman said, pointing out that it's easy to pledge. "Really do it because you mean it and do it because you care."
He added that he hopes residents will follow through on their pledges and truly make Hermosa Beach a water-wise city.
Nonetheless, he, like the other mayors, is feeling pretty competitive. During the competition's kick off ceremony in Glendale last week, Fishman said that one of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's aides was sitting next to him.
"She’s kind of elbowing me and says, 'we’re going to take this title.'" Fishman said. "I said, 'Fat chance.' We’re going to keep our crown and work even harder."