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Water District Websites Become Champions for Change to Help Californians Contend with Drought

Vision Internet Content Management Tools Spell Relief for the Golden State

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (June 18, 2015) California’s water district websites have become champions of change to help residents contend with the 4-year drought that has drained lakes, dried lawns and brought sweeping, state-ordered usage restrictions. Officials from two of those water districts today shared how their websites, designed by online government innovators at Vision Internet, are helping residents meet the 25 percent cut Governor Jerry Brown ordered on April 1.

“Our website played an enormous role in getting customers onboard with the new water restrictions really quickly,” said Renee Olsen, community affairs specialist for Dublin San Ramon Services District. The site, www.dsrsd.com, provides a seamless connection between mandatory water-use restrictions and AquaHawk, an interactive water consumption and alerting portal hosted by a third party.

Dublin San Ramon launched its website in the middle of an intense drought response campaign in June 2014. Staff used the “friendly URL” feature in visionCMS to automatically redirect customers from the old website URLs, which had been advertised in mailed notices, to comparable information on the new website. This gave customers uninterrupted access to information on mandatory water-use restrictions, which included cutting outdoor irrigation by half.

“Through advertising and direct mail, we drove customers to the website; first to understand the regulations and then sign up for AquaHawk, where they could see how much water they were using in real time. AquaHawk gave them tools to immediately make meaningful changes in how they used water, and they did,” Olsen said.

Just two months after the district established its 2014 mandatory restrictions, 97 percent of its residential customers were keeping their weekly water use under the 4,480-gallon limit. Compliance has remained at that level or above ever since, making the district’s 2015 drought message much simpler: “Thank you, and please keep it up.”

More than 350 miles south of San Ramon, customers of the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District also look to their district’s website for drought-related updates and water conservation tips. They also can find rebates on water saving devices at www.lvmwd.com/for-customers/conservation.

“Uninformed citizens can produce dire consequences for our state,” said Las Virgenes Municipal Water District Public Affairs Associate Deborah Peters. “People unaware of the severity of this drought, and how to help conserve our most precious resource, are a threat to our water supply and could cause citizens who’ve already reduced their water use to have to cut back even more.”

Keeping their website relevant and up-to-date is a high priority for the Las Virgenes District. They use the responsive design functionality built into Vision Internet’s content management system to provide mobile-ready access for the people they serve.

“We strive to be our customers’ primary resource for information related to their water service, water education and conservation,” said Peters. “People just don’t want to be told to SAVE water; they want to know HOW they can save water. Our site is a great resource for people interested in exactly what they can do to save water, both indoors and outdoors.”

Over the last three months, the Las Virgenes District has seen more than 20,000 unique visitors to its site and achieved an overall decrease in customer water use.

For more information about Vision Internet’s transformative government website technology, call 888-263-8847 or visit visioninternet.com/inforequest.

About Vision Internet
Headquartered in Santa Monica, Calif., Vision Internet is a national leader in government website development with more than 600 government, non-profit and education clients in U.S. and Canadian communities with populations that range from less than 1,000 residents to more than 5 million. The company creates cost-effective solutions that increase government efficiency, transparency and interactive communications with citizens. Over nearly 20 years, the company has earned hundreds of prestigious awards for its unique websites, Vision Internet’s visionCMS™ is a powerful, easy to use content management system developed with input from hundreds of municipal clients.

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