Palm Coast - The City of Palm Coast won first place in the 8th Annual Wyland National Mayor's Challenge for Water Conservation for cities its size - with 8,022 Palm Coast residents pledging to cut water use by 33 million gallons over the next year! Winners were announced Monday by the Wyland Foundation.

The Water Challenge is a friendly non-profit national community service campaign and competition to see which cities can best inspire their residents to make a series of easy-to-do online pledge to use water more efficiently, reduce pollution and save energy. Residents made their pledges April 1-30. The City named this effort the 'Stop the Drops' campaign and provided residents tips on saving water in their homes.

"Congratulations to the citizens of Palm Coast for winning first place in this year's Water Challenge and even more importantly for your commitment to save water," said Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland.

"We are a conservation-minded community, and this accomplishment is a testament to our desire to protect this precious natural resource," Mayor Holland added. "Although we're surrounded by water here in Florida, drinking water is not abundant. In fact, the aquifer - our primary source for drinkable water - cannot recharge quickly enough to keep up with growth. Water conservation is our best option for ensuring an adequate supply as demand for water continues to grow."

In addition to the 8,022 pledges to reduce water use, residents from Palm Coast pledged to reduce their use of 88,000 single-use plastic water bottles and eliminate 1,896 pounds of hazardous waste from entering watersheds. By altering daily lifestyle choices, residents pledges to send 883,000 fewer pounds of waste to area landfills. Potential savings of 239,000 gallons of oil, 138 million pounds of carbon dioxide, 2.1 million kilowatt hours of electricity, and $409,571 in consumer cost savings rounded out the final pledge results.

Throughout April, the City pushed the message of water conservation through social media, advertising in local media and at City events where staff handed out 'Stop the Drops' business cards, among other communications efforts.

Mayors from cities in 35 states participated in the challenge. Cities compete in the following population categories: (5,000-29,999 residents, 30,000-99,999 residents, 100,000-299,999 residents, 300,000-599,999 residents, and 600,000+ residents). Palm Coast (86,516 residents) was one of five national winners as well as Rexburg, Idaho; Athens, Ga.; Tucson, Ariz.; and Columbus, Ohio.

This is Palm Coast's fifth year to participate in the national competition. Last year, the City came in 18th in the nation for cities with a population of 30,000-99,999.

Residents from the five first-place winning cities will now be entered into a drawing for thousands of dollars in water-saving or eco-friendly prizes, including $3,000 toward their annual home utility bill, "Greening Your Home" cleaning kits from Earth Friendly Products (ECOS), home irrigation equipment from The Toro Company, and a water fixture makeover for a local school from Ecosystems LLC. A $500 home improvement store shopping spree will also be chosen from among the entire pool of U.S. participants. Additionally, participating residents were asked to nominate a deserving charity in their community to receive a 2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid. Wyland will next evaluate select charities, which will be asked to submit questionnaires in the process. They hope to announce a winning charity later in the summer.

Overall, residents around the nation, from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Winterport, Maine, made 740,143 pledges to change behaviors ranging from fixing home leaks to reducing harmful runoff into local rivers and streams.

As winners of the various prizes are announced in the coming weeks and months, it's the perfect time for residents to think about the pledges they made and to follow through with the pledges they made for conserving water and energy. Throughout the summer, the City will share water-reducing ideas for the home. Stay tuned!