Monitoring System Calls Out Wasteful Water Users

The Marin Municipal Water District is leveraging monitoring technology to help residents use less water. Learn how the city hopes to save money through user alerts

What Happened?

The Marin Municipal Water District has launched a pilot program that leverages monitoring technology to help residents cut back on their water usage and save money. Water users receive a notification grading their water consumption compared to neighbors and other users, while providing motivation to reduce waste.


The Marin Municipal Water District is testing a water usage software program on 12,000 of its 185,000 customers who will receive notifications of water consumption habits via email, physical mail or mobile device alerts. The software program takes a competitive approach to motivating customers to reduce water waste by comparing their totals to those of their neighbors.

The software program collects household water meter data and converts it into easily digestible reports that are shared with the homeowners. Included in the reports is the neighborhood water usage averages so residents can see where they rank in the community. Residents can also read different recommendations on how to cut back uniquely tailored to their water usage practices. The approach has been labeled “behavioral water efficiency,” the Marin Journal reported.

More efficient water consumption practices is a top priority in states such as California where drought-like conditions have persisted for more than a year. The state of California has passed the responsibility down to local officials to implement water conservation tactics and fine residents who fail to meet tighter standards.

In Marin, water district customers may have simple reminders delivered to them regularly and reminding them on how they should be more efficient in their water consumption.

Other Conservation Tactics

While some California municipalities are placing financial penalties on residents using too much water, others are offering incentives for more drastic changes. In the Bay Area homeowners have been offered rebates for replacing their lawns with more drought-tolerant landscaping alternatives. Residents willing to get rid of water-hungry grasses can collect from 50 cents to $4 per square foot of lawn replaced with plants in need of less watering, The San Francisco Gate reported.

To qualify for the rebate, homeowners must get rid of water-intensive landscape with low-water options. Water-intensive landscape includes grasses, sprinkler systems and pools. The city offered residents a list of approved plants that are drought-tolerant and able to generate significant savings when replacing a standard lawn and other plants, the Gate reported.

From there, residents must have their plans approved by the city, undergo an on-site inspection and complete the project by a specific deadline. The rebate check is then mailed to the homeowner.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District, for example, doubled its Landscape Conversion Rebate offer to customers for each square foot of lawn replaced, as well as eliminated a cap on how much a home could collect in rebates to increase incentives for customers.

Once the changes were made, the number of residents applying for the rebates increased by 500 percent year-over-year, the Gate reported.

Water Protection

Gov1 has reported on a variety of water conservation efforts that go well beyond California into other drought-ridden regions.

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