WaterSmart launched its first water conservation programs leveraging normative comparisons in 2011. We are early pioneers in using behavioral science to help communities improve water efficiency. But it turns out the country of Colombia was doing it two decades ago. Oh, and the World Bank is catching on too.
In 1997 a tunnel carrying water into Bogotá, Colombia collapsed, leaving the city in a water shortage crisis. The local government’s first approach was to flatly inform residents that if they did not reduce their water consumption, over half of the city would be left high and dry. The assumption – a common communications mistake – was that information and awareness would lead to behavior change. This was not the case; water use continued unchanged, and some people even started stockpiling water.
Realizing their error, the government then shifted to a behavior-based social norms approach, which yielded dramatic reduction results within … see more
What is a B Corp? Certified B Corps, or benefit corporations, are companies that have elected to meet “higher standards of transparency, accountability, and performance” in areas related to the environment, community, employees, and corporate governance. Not to be confused with legally incorporated b corporations (though we support that too!), the majority of B Corps produce consumer-facing goods – think Patagonia, Method, and Warby Parker.
There are only 1,165 certified global B Corps and with an estimated 6 million corporations in the U.S. alone, it becomes immediately clear that this is a small and elite group. WaterSmart is one of those select few and has been certified since 2011. We’ve recently seen more B2B businesses paying attention to the value of becoming B Corp certified and earlier this month we were excited to hear that the first energy utility in the world achieved the designation.
We … see more
We are good at building water infrastructure. Dams, pumps, storage tanks, water towers, wastewater treatment facilities, desalination plants, water-recycling systems, and the like. As a society we have the materials and the engineering talent, and with enough money we are good at solving technical problems. Not only are we good at this stuff, we generally prefer to build things even if it is more expensive and less effective than alternative options for solving our problems.
So why do we like to spend so much money pouring concrete, setting rebar, and constructing edifices? Well, for one it creates jobs and generates economic activity which helps raise the standard of living for our communities. These are things we can all rally around and are easy to describe, justify, measure, and possibly most importantly, see. They are tangible. You can touch them.
For example, communities around the world are investing billions of dollars … see more
Every morning when you wake up, go to the bathroom and turn on the faucet to brush your teeth, water comes out. Right away, every time. That is pretty amazing if you stop to think about it. Have you considered the journey that water took to get to you? In many cases, it has traveled hundreds of miles to arrive at your tap. Let’s consider our water here at WaterSmart HQ in San Francisco as an example. When Dave goes to the sink to fill up the pot to make coffee in the morning, where does that water come from? What does a day in the life of our water look like?
In our case, the day starts out in the beautiful Tuolumne Meadows, in Yosemite National Park. Water flows lazily down the Tuolumne River, gaining speed as it dips down into Hetch Hetchy Valley. It stops short in Hetch … see more
It’s all about innovation
It’s in the name, but it bears repeating. The water utility industry has a bit of a bad rap for lacking innovation, and being decades behind its energy utility counterparts. But what I learned from WSI is that innovation in water has arrived!
And I don’t just mean tech innovation. The exhibitors and speakers at WSI were great examples of this. Sure, there was some incredible technology. The Toro sprinkler heads the size of your finger that contain over 50 separate micro-gears to maximize irrigation efficiency? Awesome. The Deep Drip watering stakes that get water to your tree’s roots without it evaporating away? Super cool. There were many great technologies on display that smart people have developed to save water. But there were other, equally important kinds of innovation too. Here are just a few examples.
- AMWUA’s public outreach innovation. Their #SmartPig social media campaign has