SCOTTSDALE, Arizona (Jan. 30, 2015)—At this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open (WMPO), the golf community and fans of the game supported Change the Course, a freshwater restoration movement, by taking a free pledge to reduce personal water consumption and restore water to the Colorado River Basin. Pledges now number nearly 96,000.
To encourage pledges at the WMPO, Change the Course, spearheaded by the National Geographic Society, Bonneville Environmental Foundation and Participant Media, hosted an interactive experience called “Life Without Water Is Awkward.” Tournament host The Thunderbirds and Waste Management, the WMPO’s title sponsor, invited Change the Course to create the on-site opportunity for attendees to visualize life without fresh water. A series of stations throughout the golf course provided occasions to stop and think about water use and to make the pledge to conserve. The stations included life-size cutout boards of awkward moments without water, like trying to take a shower or raft the rapids. Attendees were also encouraged to use National Geographic’s water footprint calculator to analyze their own water use and access water conservation tips.
“Our demands for water have sapped streams of their flow and ecosystems of their vitality,” said National Geographic Freshwater Fellow Sandra Postel. “Fortunately, since the problem is of our making, it is within our power to reverse these trends. We must do two things: shrink our human water footprint, and return flows to depleted ecosystems.”
Waste Management and a number of progressive companies joined Change the Course to balance their own water footprints by supporting innovative projects that restore flows to the depleted Colorado River.
“Underscoring our commitment to water conservation at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, this year we joined Change the Course to make a deeper impact on this important issue,” said David Steiner, president and chief executive officer of Waste Management. “Together with the public’s help, we are supporting water flow restoration projects in the Colorado River Basin and even right here in Arizona on the Verde River.”
The dammed, diverted and depleted Colorado River has not reached the sea for most of the last half-century. For every free pledge individuals make to conserve water, Change the Course restores 1,000 gallons of water to the Colorado River Basin. Thanks to the support of the public through pledges and corporate sponsors seeking to balance their own water footprints, Change the Course has restored nearly 3 billion gallons of water. Slowly, the depleted wetlands and habitats crucial to myriad birds and wildlife are reappearing.
The iconic Colorado River Basin continues to provide water to some 40 million people and
4 million acres (1.6 million hectares) of irrigated land. With additional pledges from the public and corporate support, Change the Course will continue to work with on-the-ground conservation organizations, farmers and other water users to implement water flow restoration projects that offer high ecological impact and safeguard the mighty Colorado River for generations to come.
In 2013, Change the Course began working on a restoration project on the Verde River, less than two hours north of the TPC Scottsdale, the golf course where the WMPO is being played. With The Nature Conservancy and local irrigators, Change the Course worked to upgrade irrigation infrastructure and demonstrate that, with smarter water management and improved infrastructure, it is possible to restore flow to the river without sacrificing crop production. With the installation of solar-powered “smart” gates, water-level sensors and other monitoring, irrigators can now divert just the amount of water they need for their crops, leaving the rest for the river.
“We’re proud to partner with Waste Management and promote the Change the Course restoration movement,” said Tom King, president of The Thunderbirds, host of the WMPO. “We encourage all golf fans to learn more about this important issue and support Change the Course.”
CALL TO ACTION: Members of the public can calculate their own freshwater footprint and contribute to the water restoration efforts by making the free pledge to conserve water at wmpo.changethecourse.us or by texting the word WMPO to 77177. For every pledge, Change the Course will restore 1,000 gallons of water to the Colorado River.
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About Change the Course
In February 2013, National Geographic, Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) and Participant Media partnered to create a freshwater restoration movement, Change the Course. This campaign empowers individuals and communities to reduce their own freshwater footprints while contributing toward on-the-ground water flow restoration projects. The campaign focuses its efforts in the heavily dammed, diverted and overused Colorado River Basin. For every public pledge received, 1,000 gallons of water will be restored to the Colorado River Basin. To date, Change the Course has restored over 3 billion gallons of water to the Colorado River Basin through public pledges and corporate sustainability commitments. WhiteWave Foods Company and Coca-Cola are charter Change the Course corporate sponsors. To see all sponsors and learn more, visit changethecourse.us.
About the Waste Management Phoenix Open
The 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open is being held at the TPC Scottsdale from Jan. 26 to Feb. 1, 2015. The Waste Management Phoenix Open is the best-attended golf tournament in the world and has gained legendary status for being the most unique stop on the PGA TOUR. The 2015 edition marks the 80th playing of the event (one of the five oldest events on the PGA TOUR) and the sixth as the Waste Management Phoenix Open. The Thunderbirds, host organization of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, have raised more than $93 million for charities in Arizona, including close to $68 million in the last 10 years alone. For more information on The Thunderbirds or the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open, visit www.wmphoenixopen.com.