Friday, Oct. 17, 2003 | 9:09 a.m.
Spanish speakers in Las Vegas can use as much water as anybody else, but messages urging conservation of the resource have not been getting through to the Hispanic community, media specialists told a regional board Thursday.
Hispana Comunicacion Integral, a company with offices in Mexico City and Las Vegas, is launching a campaign to bring the message of water conservation to Southern Nevada. The company received a $150,000 annual contract from the Southern Nevada Water Authority to craft an advertising campaign in February.
On Thursday the company showed the campaign to the water authority board. The campaign will begin next month and include television, radio, newspaper and bus-stop placards.
The campaign is in response to four years of drought along the Colorado River, which water authority officials say is threatening Las Vegas' water supply in Lake Mead. The water authority has backed restrictions on outdoor water use throughout the region, paid millions to home and business owners to remove water-hungry turf and vigorously promoted conservation techniques in various media.
The effort appears to be making an impact. This month, federal officials monitoring the area's water use said the consumption appeared to be down about 15 percent from last year.
But Hispana Comunicacion Integral chief executive officer Alturo Castro and creative director Alejandra Sandoval presented results of focus-group interviews that showed many Hispanics in the Las Vegas area are unaware of "how severe and dramatic" the drought has been.
"There is a perception of abundance," Sandoval said.
While 70 percent of water drawn from Lake Mead is used outdoors for purposes such as irrigation, many Hispanics believe most water is used indoors. They also are not aware of the option of xeriscaping, or desert landscaping, an option that can save water and cut water bills, Sandoval said.
About 24 percent of the region's population is of Hispanic heritage, according to the most recent Census estimates.
The conservation message -- called a "crusade for conservation" in the ad campaign -- can be effectively tailored to the community, she said. Hispanics who have moved here from other countries have personal knowledge of what droughts can do, she said.
"Hispanics remember how scarce water is in their native countries and they don't want to live through that again," Sandoval said.
The campaign will stress awareness of the problem, involvement in a solution and education, she said.