The Key To Water Management

Inspection drives change

Inspect what you expect

We have all heard the term, “Inspect what you expect.”  Measurement of performance is one of the quickest ways to inspire change.  The water management industry could benefit from real time water use data to measure and report the amount of water used on a daily basis.

The non-profit group Charity Water ( focused on a project done at Teague, a manufacturing firm. Teague measured the amount of water flowing through their office kitchen faucet.  They were concerned about this because of the ease of water flow from the kitchen faucet is in stark contrast to what is known to be true about scarcity of water.  They developed a meter to measure the flow of water and monitored the water use on their computers.  They informed office staff water use was being measured, and looked for any behavioral changes concerning water management.  They discovered most people were using about two gallons of water to wash their hands.  They determined because the data about water use was not providing instant feedback to the person washing their hands, they were not getting the expected reduction in water use.

Next, they moved an Apple Ipad next to the sink, in clear view of the person washing their hands.  This had tremendous impact on the users because they could actually see the amount of water they were using.  Water management improved immediately.  They observed people were now shutting off the water while they soaped their hands and re-started it to rinse. The change in behavior resulted in substantial water savings.  People were now only using a ½ gallon of water to wash their hands. You can see a video of the project at here .

In landscape irrigation, we are developing water budgets for properties and measuring against the budget to make sure we are watering efficiently.  We measure water use by reading meters on a regular basis .  The challenge is just like at Teague, when the data is away from the source of water or delayed there is no behavioral change.  To drive water use down, real-time devices should measure water use on a daily basis and compare it to a water budget delivered directly to the water manager. As more competitive and affordable technology for real time measurement is available, the water savings are going to be substantial.

Wireless water meters give us the ability to measure water use in real time. California is leading the way with wireless water meters, and other states are not far behind.  In 2010 residents of the Bronx had the opportunity to see their water consumption in real time.  The New York Times reports that 834,000 customers have a wireless meter already installed and will be able to start using the system immediately.  This gives users the opportunity to quickly see how much water they are using and as a result change their behavior.

What is your city doing about real time data and wireless water meters?  Let us know who is doing well and who we need to influence to change.



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Richard Restuccia

Richard Restuccia is a water management evangelist. He believes passionately in water efficiency and sees the financial and social benefits far too often to keep a secret. Richard is a spokesperson at industry events and on the Hill to provide direction and insight on landscape water management best practices. Richard puts his words into action through service on various boards and committees. Currently he serves on the Irrigation Association’s Board of Directors. As a board member, Richard serves in a variety of capacities, including government/public affairs. He is the liaison between the board and its marketing committee on the best ways to promote water efficiency and educate industry professionals on new technologies, products and services. Richard is also a regular contributor to Lawn & Landscape Magazine.




  1. Tuesday, 12:26 LiteracyandTech

    This hits home about self-awareness prompting self-improvement! So how does a person measure their water usage? I don’t even know where our water meter is located…definitely not by any inside taps.
    I’m passing this along to some conservative-minded science teachers!

  2. Wednesday, 5:21 Alan Harris

    I still have a dumb meter for water, but gas and electrical meters got smart a few years ago. However, neither one provide any instant feedback. My new Nest I got for Christmas is a different story, but you will have to read my future blog posts to find out more.

    On a separate note…did you see the new Dyson Airblade Tap that was released yesterday? Interesting fusion of two existing technologies which reportedly have an 70% reduction in carbon footprint over traditional methods.

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