Caltrans launches drought awareness campaign on freeway message boards

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014 - 10:42 am

Facing one of California’s driest years ever, state highway officials this week launched a major education campaign with 700 electronic highway boards displaying the message: “Serious Drought. Help Save Water.”

California Department of Transportation officials say they are doing their part along with other state agencies to cut back on water use and encourage the public to do that as well.

“Caltrans has already taken action to sharply restrict water usage,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “Using our highway message signs, we are asking California’s 24 million drivers to join us in this important effort.”

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought state of emergency in January and directed state officials to take action to prepare for water shortages.

California’s association of water agencies has published a website with advice for residents on how to save water. It is at

Caltrans announced this week it also plans to cut back on the water it uses statewide, modifying how it maintains landscaped areas and even how often department vehicles are washed.

Beginning this month, Caltrans, which is responsible for 30,000 acres of irrigated landscaping, is taking steps to conserve water while the state deals with a severe drought. Here are measures it will take:

• Cut statewide irrigation by 50 percent.

• Delay new landscaping projects in some areas until the next rainy season.

• Stop watering in areas hit hardest by the drought.

• Expand use of irrigation equipment that automatically shuts off when it rains.

• Use recycled water for irrigation when possible.

• Cease washing vehicles except when necessary for safety.

Caltrans will use 700 changeable message signs statewide for the drought awareness campaign. Those signs will carry the drought message when they are not being used for emergency or traffic issues messages, or Amber Alerts.

Call The Bee’s Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

Read more articles by Bill Lindelof

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