Lady Gaga's PSA on water conservation is released

Public-service announcement: Message was filmed in part at Hearst Castle

ktanner@thetribunenews.comJuly 16, 2014 

The day after California water regulators voted to get tough on water wasters, pop diva Lady Gaga is taking a gentler approach by releasing her long-anticipated water-conservation message, shot in part at Hearst Castle.

In February, the mega-star, her cast and video team descended on the Castle to film footage for what would become her nearly 12-minute “G.U.Y.” music video. Lady Gaga also promised to provide the state with a public-service announcement urging her millions of followers, fans and others to use water wisely.

On Wednesday, she delivered. Her simple, 17-second message is online on YouTube.com and at http://saveourwater.com. In it, she mentions the “honor” of shooting her music video at the Castle. The short public-service announcement also features three views of William Randolph Hearst’s former estate, which is now a state park.

According to Remar Sutton of the Hearst Castle Preservation Foundation, who has collaborated with Lady Gaga since February, the state also will use the video in an extensive public-service campaign.

Lady Gaga and the Governor’s Office decided that timing the PSA’s release was crucial in conveying the message that this is an extremely serious drought with serious, costly consequences for those who don’t use water wisely.

“We’re thrilled Lady Gaga has joined the effort to ‘Save Our Water,’ ” said Mark Cowin, director of the state’s Department of Water Resources. “In this drought, conservation isn’t enough … we have to take extraordinary measures to save water.”

The Lady Gaga announcement marks the launch of the state’s new “Save Our Water” awareness campaign urging Californians to undertake extraordinary conservation efforts.

One campaign slogan is “Brown is the new Green,” encouraging people to stop watering their lawns, because a lot of drinkable water statewide is sprinkled, dripped or hosed onto outdoor landscaping, especially during the dry summer and fall seasons when water supplies often are at their lowest levels.

Conservation progress

The international pop superstar has been on a world tour, but Sutton said she has remained engaged in the process of getting her message to Californians at the right time.

In February, Lady Gaga donated $25,000 to the Cambria Community Services District for water-supply studies because that North Coast town is one of the state’s most drought-threatened communities. Residents and businesses are forbidden to use water from the tap on outside landscaping and are restricted with steep penalties on how much each household or business can use during each two-month billing period.

The art lover also donated $250,000 to the Castle foundation, which is being used to restore two iconic sculpture groups on the hilltop.

Now, through the State Water Resources Control Board’s unprecedented step Tuesday, certain types of water waste statewide have been deemed a criminal infraction similar to a speeding violation.

Excessive outdoor water use, such as allowing landscape watering to spill into streets, or hosing off sidewalks and driveways, can trigger fines of $500 a day.

The regulations are expected to take effect Aug. 1. They apply to individuals, businesses and public agencies (with the latter allowed to water outside only two days a week). Agricultural interests were specifically exempted.

In January, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a statewide drought emergency, and called on “all Californians to conserve water in every way possible.” He asked everyone in the state to voluntarily cut their water use by 20 percent.

That hasn’t happened, according to the latest statistics. According to a report in the Sacramento Bee, “Residential and business water use in California rose 1 percent in May, compared with a three-year average of the same month from 2011 to 2013, according to a recent survey of 276 water agencies that represent about two-thirds of all urban water users in the state.”

A June Water Resources Control Board report said that, since the governor’s declaration, there had been zero change in water use in the state’s Central Coast region, which runs approximately from Santa Barbara to Santa Cruz.

Cambria's situation

That’s not the case in water-conscious Cambria, however, where an emergency project is installing a plant to make brackish water drinkable by treating and filtering it. According to Cambria services district statistics, water usage in May dropped 44 percent from 2013, and statistics for the five months since the Governor’s drought emergency declaration shows community members exceeded the 20 percent reduction target.

During May, district data show water production from the district’s wells (about equivalent to usage by its customers) totaled 38.27 acre-feet, down 44 percent from May 2013. For the first five months of 2014, production totaled 200.65 acre feet, down 28 percent from the same period last year.

For more on the new state regulations, go to http://www.swrcb.ca.gov/press_room/press_releases/2014/pr071514.pdf.

The PSA

What Lady Gaga says in her water-conservation message: “I had the honor of shooting my music video at the California landmark, Hearst Castle, and while I was there, I learned about the necessity of water conservation during this drought. Do your part to help save water at home. Go to saveourH20.org.”

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