Photo courtesy University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

CITY HALL — About one in six city vehicles are in the midst of a 60-day dirty period.

Last month, City Council voted unanimously to leave 117 vehicles in its roughly 750-vehicle fleet unwashed for two months in an effort to conserve water and raise awareness about water usage during this drought.

Los Angeles Waterkeeper’s “Go Dirty for the Drought” campaign has already resulted in 6,000 dirty pledges and, according to the nonprofit, saved more than a million gallons of water. Hundreds of those pledges have come from Santa Monicans, L.A. Waterkeeper officials said.

Mayor Pro Tempore Terry O’Day brought the pledge to council in hopes of reducing City Hall’s consumption and encouraging residents throughout the region not to wash their cars.

“We’re looking at all the sedan and pool cars in the city fleets,” said Dean Kubani, director of City Hall’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment. “It’s about 117 vehicles. It does not include public safety vehicles or heavy equipment that needs washing to make sure that they’re safe to use.”

These cars are washed two to four times per month, according to L.A. Waterkeeper, and the pledge not to wash them will save about 40,000 gallons of water.

In addition to those vehicles, Big Blue Bus’ fleet of about 200 will be washed less frequently. This should save about 30,000 gallons of water.

“Local and state agencies should be at the forefront of making more water-conscious decisions and educating the public about the drought,” Liz Crosson, executive director of Los Angeles Waterkeeper said in a release. “The City of Santa Monica is a leader in sustainability, and we hope that their participation in the campaign will empower residents and other cities throughout California to do their part to conserve water, too.”

L.A. Waterkeeper is hoping to get 10,000 pledges which, they say, would result in 3 million gallons of water saved over the two months.

As of December, when the Daily Press last looked at citywide water usage, Santa Monica was using 11.42 million gallons of water per day.

Last year was one of the driest in California’s history. Rainfall in Los Angeles for 2013 was 3.6 inches. The yearly average to date is 14.93, according to statistics from the National Weather Service.

Councilmember Kevin McKeown asked if the pledge would negatively impact the unionized carwash, with which City Hall has a contract. Kubani, noting that hundreds of vehicles will still need to be washed, said that it would not.

Kubani also explained that carwashes are required to use recycled water but the manual, coin operated stations for washing cars are not.

McKeown and Mayor Pam O’Connor, who at the time were seeking reelection (they were both successful), made comments about how dirty their cars already are.

Participants in the pledge receive a static-cling sticker to display on the window of their car.

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