Running your lawn sprinklers when you shouldn’t? Got a leaky pipe that’s sending water onto the street?
You might want to rein those things in because Smart Utility Systems in Irvine has developed a Smart H2O mobile app that allows users to report water waste directly to utility companies with the touch of a button.
Southern California cities currently prohibit a number of water-wasting activities, including allowing water to run off a property and onto the sidewalk and gutter, washing driveways and/or sidewalks, washing a car without a shut-off nozzle on the hose and using potable water in non-recirculating fountains and other decorative outdoor features.
“We’re trying to engage consumers to be part of the solution in a positive way so they can become water heroes and not drought shamers,” said Lisbeth Cabrera Spencer, Smart Utility Systems’ marketing director. “It’s not that the average consumer doesn’t care — they often just don’t know what their water footprint is.”
Spencer cited a clear example of how the Smart H2O app could come in handy.
“I have a young son and I was getting off the freeway and saw a broken sprinkler going off like Old Faithful,” she said. “I didn’t know what city I was in and didn’t have time to figure out what utility company to call.”
If Spencer had been using the Smart H2O app with satellite technology it would have immediately provided the appropriate utility company with the exact location of the faulty sprinkler.
Anyone who thinks water wasting is overblown need only look at the latest stats from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
The department’s Water Conservation Response Unit processed 563 complaints last week alone. Three hundred and two informational letters were mailed telling homeowners that someone witnessed water being wasted at their address. Another 153 inspections were performed, 31 warnings were issued and two customers were saddled with $100 fines.
“We encourage anyone who believes there is water being wasted to contact our Water Conservation Response Unit,” LADWP spokeswoman Amanda Parsons said.
A total of 13,816 water complaints have been processed year to date by the LADWP, 1,178 warnings have been issued and 71 customers were fined $100.
But the city’s water conservation efforts are paying off. Customer water use was down 21.8 percent in September compared with the same period a year earlier.
The Environmental Protection Agency notes that household leaks can waste more than 1 trillion gallons of water a year in the US.
“That’s like 40 million swimming pools or 24 billion bathtubs,” Spencer said.
Ken Petersen, general manager for Valencia Water Co., said the Smart H2O app makes sense.
“It sounds pretty reasonable to me,” he said. “Some of the other utility companies have developed their own apps using various methods. We haven’t done that yet. We’re relying on consumers calling in and let us know if there is more water being used than there should be.”
Petersen said Valencia is rapidly approaching a 30 percent reduction in water use. In June the water agency’s board adopted a series of water restrictions to comply with the California Water Resources Control Board’s mandate to reduce water use by 24 percent for the next several months
“One month we were even at a 40 percent,” he said. “We try to work with customers on water usage and give them all the tools they need to correct the problems.”