Rialto students join city's pledge to conserve water as part of eco-friendly competition

RIALTO, Calif. (KABC) -- Students at Kelley Elementary are among the Rialto residents who have pledged to participate in a water conservation campaign that includes an eco-friendly competition among cities nationwide.

The annual Wyland National Mayor's Challenge will commence on Saturday, the first day of Earth Month. Prizes offered in the conservation-minded contest include water-saving home products, gift cards and even a 2017 Toyota Prius.

But for some participants, there is more at stake than the possibility of winning a free car.

"Hopefully this will be a learning opportunity -- that we'll learn more about what the underground water sources are and what that really means," said Dina Walker, president of the Rialto Unified School District's board of education.

Due to heavy rain this past winter, all but a small portion of Southern California is still mired by drought.

The snowpack in the Eastern Sierra remains more than 50 percent above normal, and almost every reservoir in the state is above normal for this time of year. However, a third component remains for those in Rialto.

"The underground water is what's below your feet right now," Kelley Elementary teacher Susan Dix said. "It's like a river you can't see."

Rialto receives 50 to 70 percent of its water from the underground water supply. According to Dix, that source of water still needs to be replenished.

"It (has) dwindled considerably over the last seven years," she said. "Yes, we got a lot of rain and it helped tremendously, but it's not enough yet."

According to Rialto officials, it will take another 3 years of above-average rainfall to refill the underground water supply back to normal.
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