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Who’s Watching The Water Wasters

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“The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”

-John Wooden

I think about this quote a lot around tax time. Do you know a Pew Research Center poll in 2006 found 21% of Americans did not think it was morally wrong to not report all income for tax purposes? The scary part is I would guess even people who would agree it’s morally wrong might underreport their taxes or take extra deductions. This happens even with a huge government agency, the IRS watching over tax returns. Forbes reported a few years ago that Americans are irrationally afraid of the IRS, but this isn’t stopping many of them from cheating.

Many people are also wasting water. I think most of them are not aware of the waste and some are aware but because the financial penalty is so low they don’t care. In the landscape industry we also have the situation where often water managers don’t pay for the water they use. It is paid by the property owner, which may reduce the incentive to save.

The Solution

Considering the amount of inaccurate reporting when it comes to taxes where the threat of penalty is high; what is a property owner or manager to do when evaluating contractors who manage water they are not paying for? Fortunately there are companies like WaterFluence who are tracking many landscape companies water use for their customers and giving consumers an opportunity to see who is really doing a good job managing water. WaterFluence believes healthy, attractive landscapes that are efficiently irrigated create substantial value, well-being and beauty when sustainably grown in our communities.

To support this goal they track the water use of contractors on specific jobs and report their findings on a public forum so users can see how well their contractor or prospective contractor is doing managing water. For each site they chart how actual water use compares to a budget benchmark based on site-specific characteristics and real-time weather. Timely feedback is provided to contractors giving them opportunity to make changes based on data.

I spoke with WaterFluence’s Program Director, John Whitcomb, a while back and am excited about their program. They are funded by water agencies like the City of Menlo Park, City of Stockton, and the Contra Costa Water District. The program is free to customers of the partnering water agencies, and most importantly WaterFluence is committed to working with contractors. They have developed synergistic relationship with many contracts to manage water more efficiently. This is excellent news for all of us.

The water world does not have a version of the IRS yet and we don’t need it. Large majorities of people are conserving more water every day by collaborating more creatively and WaterFluence is a great example of the positive change. What else are you seeing out there in the form of collaboration to save water? We would love to hear in the comments section and if you enjoyed this post please consider subscribing or follow me on twitter @H2oTrends.

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