How Austin, Texas got Water Wise Using Data

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At the most recent Colorado WaterWise Lunch n’ Learn, Robb Barnitt talked about the success of Austin Water’s pilot program with Dropcountr.

Ever forgotten to lock the front door or close the garage when leaving the house? Luckily there are home security apps that will fix that for you, but what if a faucet is leaking in your home or the hose outside is still on? There’s an app for that, it’s called Dropcountr.

Colorado WaterWise, an organization that serves as a leader in efficient water use in Colorado, featured Dropcountr during their most recent Lunch n’ Learn on July 13 with a presentation from Robb Barnitt explaining how the app saved 41 million gallons of water in Austin, Texas. The Dropcountr app gives homeowners and water utilities access to real-time water-use data in an organized format.

Austin Water tested Dropcountr with their users and saved 41 million gallons of water over the first year. Austin, Texas, one of the fastest growing metro areas in the United States, relies on Texas’ Colorado River and groundwater to hydrate their people, lawns and animals. Austin Water was looking for a way to accommodate the water needs of their fast growing city and encourage water conservation.logo-1[1]

Water data can be intimidating and difficult to understand because of the sheer amount of data. For most people, looking at water bills can be confusing, time consuming, and difficult to understand their home water use. To address this issue, Austin Water started a pilot program with the Dropcountr app in June 2015 with about 8,500 customer accounts. The app provides the user with a dashboard that shows water usage data every hour, data from previous weeks, months, and years, and will allow the user to compare their household with other similar households in the neighborhood. The app can send alerts if it detects a leak in your home, making homeowners more aware so they can fix leaks in order to save water and money. Users also have the opportunity to set goals for water usage. This encourages people to conserve water and provides homeowners with tips for how to conserve and rebates for purchasing high efficacy appliances. Austin Water saw a nine percent reduction in water usage. In the top 20 percent of highest water users, they saw reduction of 17 percent.

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Dropcountr shows real-time water usage amounts as well as data from past months and years.

Dropcountr estimates users save 30 gallons per day because they are aware of how much water they are using or aware of leaks in their home. This type of access to real-time water data will bring awareness to the amount of water that is being used in a household and provide tips for conservation.

For Austin Water, the app seemed like a no-brainer as everyone has a cell phone on them at all times so it seemed like the most efficient, effective way to reach water users.

Denver Water is also involved in an pilot program with Dropcountr! Are you a Denver resident? Download the app and start tracking your usage and data.

summer2017datahwcoverFind further coverage of water data in the Summer 2017 Data Issue of Headwaters magazine. Intrigued with access to real-time water-use data? Check out the story on page 16 of Headwaters and listen to the latest episode of our radio series, Connecting the Drops Using Real-Time Data to Encourage Water-Wise Habits.

Not a Headwaters subscriber? Visit yourwatercolorado.org for the digital version. Headwaters is the flagship publication of the Colorado Foundation for Water Education and covers current events, trends and opportunities in Colorado water.

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