Clean Waterways Ad Campaign Funded Through Public-Private Partnership

Sacramento became the first California market this week for a new type of advertising campaign that promotes cleaner water ways though stormwater pollution prevention, a message usually paid for and delivered by government, but in this case financed and produced by a private-public partnership at no cost to taxpayers.

The half-minute spots are called public service commercials, hybrids between commercials and public service announcements. Morrison Homes funded production costs and the purchase of air time for the benefit Sacramento County. The company worked through Environmental Communication, whose Adopt-A-Waterway program engages private sector companies to join local governments in promoting environmental stewardship. Through these sponsorship efforts, private sector companies can help lessen the impact of budget cuts on local-government-funded environmental programs.

In this case, the private-public partnership created by Environmental Communication provides a mechanism for Morrison Homes to purchase the air time for the public service commercials, and fund vital water quality programs in Sacramento County.

The advertisements airing next week will communicate the critical role of the public in protecting water quality by not dumping garbage and toxins into stormwater runoff drains. Local officials highlighted the partnership between Sacramento County and Morrison Homes as an effective example of how business can interact with government to preserve the environment.

"We have a serious stormwater pollution problem in the Sacramento region, where everything from motor oil to cleaning solvents are flushed into our waterways on a daily basis. But like many challenges, the solution starts with communication. This campaign is a marvelous opportunity to meet that communication need and build momentum, not only toward stopping pollution, but reversing the damage," said District One Sacramento County Supervisor Roger Dickinson.

"Our philosophy with our customers is based on the principle of partnership, and we carry over this principle to the communities in which we operate. Just as we endeavor to provide pristine neighborhoods for our home buyers, we want to participate in programs like Adopt-A-Waterway, which aim to clean up the environment," said Terry Bales, vice president of sales and marketing for Morrison Homes in Sacramento. "We are proud to be involved in Adopt-A-Waterway. It gives Morrison Homes a way to support our community, help clean up our waterways, and improve the quality of life for generations to come."

This campaign debuted last month in Miami and focused on preventing the devastating impact of storm runoff pollution on the ocean environment.

Environmental Communication's Adopt-A-Waterway program, which started in Sacramento in August of 2002. The program provides a framework for businesses to sponsor improvements to storm drain systems and urban waterways. It works by allowing businesses to integrate their logo onto signs -- designed by Environmental Communication - that promote positive environmental messages. Dozens of Adopt-A-Waterway signs are in Sacramento County, which has received more than $100,000 in additional environmental funding through the program.

Adopt-A-Waterway operates at no cost to taxpayers. As an added bonus, the signs also save local governments more money by meeting federally required mandates for outreach and public education under the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System.

"Traditional marketing sells a product, it caters to a need. Through our programs, businesses are changing the condition of consumers' lives, that is, the condition of their environment. No other form of media can say that," said Paul Polizzotto, president and CEO of Environmental Communication.

While Adopt-A-Waterway is off to a great start, the potential is enormous both in terms of reach and in revenue generation for local government, Polizzotto said. He estimates that more than $500,000 in direct funding through sponsorships, and added value from programs, could be realized annually for Sacramento County through Adopt-A-Waterway, and through projects such as the public service commercial.

Along with Morrison Homes, Vitech Mortgage Group is among the major sponsors of the local Adopt-A-Waterway program in Sacramento County. Money raised from Morrison Homes' sponsorship of the new public service commercial campaign will build up funding already provided through the Adopt-A-Waterway program.

Funds from that earlier campaign are already funding school outreach programs, wetlands conservation at Mather Regional Park and placement of signs discouraging dumping at creek access points.

In particular, school outreach funded through Adopt-A-Waterway includes a dynamic, interactive environmental educational effort for students in grades third through sixth. Developed by the South Yuba River Citizens League, the program relies on fun performances by characters such as "Detective Drizzle" to teach the importance of stormwater environmental issues, and what students can do to preserve healthy waterways.

Environmental Communication

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