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    Each of these 12 cities earned the top spot in their population/region category for having the most residents pledge to be more water wise. The Wyland Foundation created the Mayor's Challenge with Toyota in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act. Organizations spearheading the effort also include the U.S. EPA, U.S. Forest Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, WaterPik, Rain Bird, Lowe's, Sterling Plumbing, PADI, and Project AWARE.

Did you take the challenge?

In April, civic leaders across the country asked residents to take part in a national contest aimed at slashing water and energy use. In return, residents had a chance to win a new car, water-saving fixtures, and hundreds of other prizes.

The National Mayor's Challenge for Water Conservation invited cities to compete for the title of most “water wise.” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles and Mayor Peter Carlisle of Honolulu were among the first to accept the challenge. (View Carlisle's video) Mayors from more than 1,000 cities followed suit by signing an online letter of support, issuing council resolutions, creating steering committees, and using the city's “highest” seat to urge residents to save water and energy, and reduce pollution.

“We see mayors making gentleman's bets over who will win college football games. Here's a way for them to take on an even more important challenge in a friendly, competitive way,” says artist and environmentalist Wyland, founder of the nonprofit Wyland Foundation. The group piloted the Mayor's Challenge concept in more than 200 South Florida and Southern California cities in 2009 and 2011.

The national challenge lasted a month, with winning mayors earning bragging rights as leaders who inspired residents to go to www.mywaterpledge.com and promise to reduce water and energy usage. The site provided options on how to conserve resources. More than 20,000 people made pledges.

Cities with the highest percentage of participating residents won. Winners were divided into four regions and categorized by population (5,000 – 30,000, 30,001 – 100,000, and 100,000+). See the chart for top winners.

For residents, more than bragging rights were at stake. Participants in winning cities were entered into a drawing to win more than $50,000 in prizes, including a Toyota Prius Hybrid, custom-designed sprinkler systems from Rainbird, Eco-Flow Showerheads from WaterPik, Sterling water-saving toilets, and hundreds of gift cards from Lowe's.

The challenge also helped residents discover local conservation resources that offer information about regional water and energy issues as well as cost-saving tips for their homes.