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Pleasanton Spending $250,000 To Make Sure People Know They Have To Save Water During Drought

PLEASANTON (CBS SF) -- An East Bay city which has enacted mandatory water cutbacks is now paying big bucks to inform those who still are not aware of the restrictions and the message to save water.

Pleasanton has enacted a Stage 3 drought declaration which includes a mandatory 25 percent cutback in water usage. The city sent out letters demanding the cuts and threatening fines for those who don't comply.

One look at the brown lawns in Pleasanton's neighborhoods shows people got the message.

"I think the message came when it hit the pocketbook and they saw they'd be fined and money speaks," said homeowner Randy Mickelson. "Once they saw that, they're scared straight and it's all anyone's talking about."

And the city seems pleased water users have already cut back more than 20% from last year. So it was a little troubling to some that, on Tuesday, the city council approved $200,000 of water funds to be paid to an advertising agency to promote conservation.

This ad has already been running on cable stations for about a month. The city says it's been in the works since May as part of an overall strategy to get people to conserve. But some who are already doing that say it's a waste of money.

"It's good for the advertising agency that got the contract…so, good for them," said homeowner Dave Sherin. "We don't need it. We all know there's a drought…and so, I think we're doing a good job, yeah."

But Pleasanton water managers say the message needs frequent reinforcing going into the summer months, when temperatures in the Tri-Valley area frequently reach triple digits.

"We haven't gotten to the hard part yet, which is July and August," said Daniel Smith, director of Pleasanton's, Operations Services. "If we take our foot off the accelerator and everybody thinks we're doing well…we're gonna have a problem."

"I don't know, I think there's a point where it's really just beating people over the head with a shovel," said homeowner Sarah Silva.

But the city says people need to get used to the idea. If this drought continues next year… there may be no outside watering allowed at all.

The $200,000 figure is the total amount allocated for two years worth of advertising. Some $50,000 of it has already been spent on research and to create the ad.

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