Water conservation programs: the last mile

Water conservation is hard. We know from experience! At the same time, it is incredibly important. The EPA estimates that 40 states in the US will face water shortages by 2023. This issue impacts business operations across the country, as well as human health and safety. Part of being a good corporate citizen means doing your part in using water resources efficiently.

Many of our clients and businesses we speak with at Apana have a water management plan in place. The challenge for these groups is in meeting the goals and objectives of their plan. To continue to meet water reduction targets, additional tools and know-how are required.

It’s all about the data

Good water management starts with data. As the saying goes, what gets measured, gets managed. For most businesses and institutions, this starts with the monthly or bimonthly water bill. Water bills are connected to a service address, so if you are managing water across multiple service addresses, acquiring and compiling all the data in one place requires ongoing work. Tracking down bills across an organization with hundreds of sites can create all sorts of headaches.

In addition to the timing gaps of the water bills, another issue is the granularity of data. If a leak started the day after your last bill, it could be 30 or 60 days until you receive any notification. That’s one to two full months before you are blindsided with a huge bill, or worse!

Traditionally, water meters are placed on the main line – even if you receive a leak notification from your utility, there is a lot of plumbing after that point. How do you know where to look? Leak detection services are time-consuming and often costly.

For companies that follow water management best practices and recognize the benefits of submetering after the main meter, the meters are in hard-to-reach places. Getting meter reads manually is inefficient and error-prone.

Creating positive change doesn’t need to be difficult

Changing behavior is hard. When was the last time a major initiative from corporate was rolled out? How quickly did staff respond to the new process? Did the change stick, or did people stick with the status quo?

Behavior change takes time. It also takes data and diligence. One of the most powerful elements of Apana’s Water Efficiency as a Service is the continuous, real-time data. This data is accessible 24/7 from most any internet-connected device. We’ve seen in case after case, when consultants come in to do water efficiency training, the new practices stick around for a few weeks, maybe a few months. Afterwards, old patterns reemerge.

The change isn’t “sticky” unless there is a new normal. Real-time water data provides the ongoing feedback to create a new normal. When people can see the data, receive real-time alerts, and see the impact of new water efficiency practices, they are much more likely to continue with the positive changes.