Addressing the FEAR of Water Innovation

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I recently spent two days among colleagues from a broad range of water utilities at an amazing peer-to-peer conference of the California Water Efficiency Partnership (CalWEP). The assembled group discussed water innovation and exhibited many classic traits of high performing teams:

  • Commitment to a common mission
  • Dedication to their jobs and to the group over long periods (10-30 years)
  • Welcoming of new participants 
  • Diversity across ages, backgrounds and cultures 
  • Collaborative spirit fostered by natural, non-competitive monopolies

CalWEP’s mission is to drive water innovation and adoption of new technologies. These market transformations will make our state more sustainable in the face of rapidly rising populations and increasing variable water supply. For the past 40 years, CalWEP (and its predecessor organization, the California Urban Water Conservation Council) has enabled California to largely meet its drinking water supply needs through successful adoption of new technologies, practices, and behaviors. The result has been

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Public Messaging for Rate Increases

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Water utilities are having a hard time getting public support for increasing investment in their infrastructure — a crucial need that underpins the viability and resilience of our cities and suburban communities. More than 250 million Americans are at risk of losing the reliability and safety of their municipal water utilities as these systems reach the end of their useful life. People yell and scream at their elected leaders about rate increases even as they face the warning signs of broken water mains and episodes of contaminated supplies. How can utilities leverage public messaging to generate more support for their mission? How can utilities neutralize complaints and win over their customers to support the necessary improvements in our water systems?

A new whitepaper from Hahn Public Research sheds light on this subject. Research indicate that utilities should design their public messages to focus more on the benefits and features customers … see more

Two Billion Gallons…and Counting

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In March of this year we made the announcement that we had cumulatively saved one billion gallons of water. That was nearly 4 years to the day from the launch of our first utility customer in Cotati, California. This was a momentous occasion for WaterSmart and represented further validation of our business model, as well as an affirmation of our mission to change the way the world uses water.

Now, just a short 8 months later, we can hardly believe that we recently passed our second billion gallons of water saved. Not only have our utility partners and their customers saved a lot of water, but they’ve also saved nearly $13,000,000 as well as avoided 20,000 tons of Co2 emissions from the energy used to heat and transport that water. We are witnessing our mission in action.

So, what does two billion gallons mean? A one followed by nine … see more

San Juan Capistrano, Tiered Rates and Water Efficiency

The other day I was proud to be out the door by 6am and on the way to a pool workout when I saw and heard my sprinklers on. We enjoyed a rare June rain the day before, and I realized that I broke the law by irrigating my lawn within 48 hours of rainfall. In shorts and flip-flops, I trudged through the sprinklers, drenching my legs in the process, to reach my irrigation controller and dutifully turned it off.  My water district, Marin Municipal, would allow outdoor watering again on Friday. (Note to self: Calendar a reminder to turn irrigation controller back on.)

This watering restriction, handed down by the State, is one of many signals and prohibitions to warn California citizens of impending doom if we don’t get ahead of this four-year drought and start stretching our dwindling water supplies. There are a limited number of conservation tools; … see more

To One Billion, and Beyond!

Back in 2009 WaterSmart put in motion what can only be described as a veritable tidal wave. We wanted to change the way the world uses water, so we designed a way to better communicate information about water consumption to households and water utilities. Armed with this easy-to-understand information and personalized suggestions on ways to save water and money, people started saving. Just a gallon here and there at first, but the results were real. Some early calculations implied that some of our customers improved their water-use efficiency by 2, 3, or even 4 percent compared with households that weren’t receiving detailed consumption reports.

And then we reached a milestone. An independent consulting team evaluated a pilot program we ran with the East Bay Municipal Utility District in 2012 (thanks to David Mitchell and Tom Chestnutt). The evaluation, financed by the California Water Foundation (also thanks to Lester … see more

Zero to One… Million

Five years ago, my co-founder Rob Steiner and I met to discuss an opportunity we both thought was vital and urgent – how to design a water conservation solution that would reach each customer without a costly visit to each home. The idea made sense to us, but would it make sense to water utility managers who are in the business of selling water?

Today, as we send out our one millionth Home Water Report, I can confidently state that the answer to that question is a resounding “Yes!” In five short years, WaterSmart Software has grown from two water advocates with an idea to a thriving company with 25 employees, 30 utility partners in four states, and a cumulative impact of over 750 million gallons of water saved!

While we always intended to help people better understand their water use to improve efficiency and save money, we began to … see more

Welcome to the WaterSmart blog

I want to take a moment to welcome you to the new WaterSmart Software blog. We’ve been contemplating starting a blog for some time now, and with the redesign of our website, it felt like the perfect opportunity to get started.

I founded WaterSmart Software with Rob Steiner five years ago with the mission to change the way the world uses water. Since that time, we’ve seen some incredible things transpire, both good and bad. We’ve built a world-class technology platform to help water utilities and their customers save water and money. We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have 29 utility partners to work with and learn from. And with help from our investors, we’ve built an amazing team of motivated and passionate individuals. We’ve seen the beginnings of a paradigm shift in the water industry where the customer is becoming a partner in the effort to improve water-use efficiency through … see more