In our last post, we set out the case for why water consumers must be empowered to become partners with water agencies in meeting new conservation mandates. This post will offer an encompassing solution for how to make that happen.
Currently, consumers don’t really think about their water usage beyond the bill. They take for granted that when they turn on the tap, water will come out, and as much of it as they want or need. Short of turning off everyone’s water, we need to get their attention in a way that lets them know how direly important their participation is.
We need to give consumers timely data about their water usage — including leak notifications and segregated outdoor versus indoor use — in a form that is both understandable and relevant to their everyday lives. And we need to overcome the inertia of complacency by providing some means of exerting a meaningful level of proactive control over their water usage.
Get Customers Involved…As Partners
It just makes good sense, really: Give people more control over a situation, and they’re more likely to be willing to take more active responsibility for its outcome.
But how do we do that?
We first recognize (and help our customers recognize) that agencies have very real limitations on what they can accomplish alone. They can only manage water use up to the meter. The rest of the responsibility lies with the consumer. To drive this point home, we must provide new task-specific education and tools to change current paradigms:
1. Consumers – Embrace Ownership
The current paradigm is “I, the consumer, am not really responsible for anything but my water bill.” We need to encourage instead the realization that consumers are not just recipients of a service, but are indeed “owners” of the public trust. This ownership carries with it certain responsibilities, and accountability. Public water agencies operate as a kind of co-op, in which elected “representatives” of these owners oversee administrators and policies.
The new paradigm must be a customer viewpoint that “we are not only owners and users, but co-stewards of the water resource. We are team members with the agency, in ensuring a sustainable water future. Only together do we have the power to make end-user decisions that will push the water-use curve into the necessary downward trend.”
2. Agencies – Embrace Partnership
The current paradigm is that the agency buys rebate items (water-efficient toilets, shower heads, washing machines, etc.), replaces grass, puts in smart meters and irrigation clocks, and creates punitive water tiers to reduce water use. This has helped, but it won’t be enough to meet the future conservation objectives of the state or truly empower the consumer.
The new agency paradigm needs to be that they must no longer be alone in the driver’s seat of the conservation vehicle: This is a bus, not a car. Agencies NEED their customers to both understand what is required of a conservation destination, and to be willing to get on the bus to assist the agency in getting there. More low-flow toilets alone just aren’t going to make it happen. The old “rebate-penalty” paradigm must be replaced with the new “customer-to-partner paradigm.”
Messaging must reinforce that “we are in this together and without you, consumer, we are destined to fail.” This means messaging must include “action-reward” language: Benefits to agencies AND water users if conservation goals are met; consequences to both if they are not. If we’re not answering end users’ unspoken question — What’s in it for me? — we’re not providing proper motivation.
3. Consumers – Embrace Empowerment
Subeca AMIoT offers the tools that empower both agency and consumer to understand and manage water consumption, like no other solutions provider, which all lend themselves to consumer empowerment:
- Smart Pin meter registers that provide real-time “Edge®” data via Bluetooth 5, as well as data to the cloud via a reliable and cost-effective LoRa network.
- Link® RF broadcaster for effective, affordable, sustainable Bluetooth and LoRa communications, to the agency and its customers
- Cloud-based Engage® software utility and consumer dashboards and consumer app, with budgeting and alert capabilities, leak detection, current water use and cumulative water-cost data, and extensive agency analytic capabilities.
- Optional Act® wireless valve, which puts remote water shut-off and control in agency and/or customers’ hands 24/7.
4. Agencies – Motivate Consumers
- Cast and constantly reinforce the vision of “consumer as water system and conservation objectives owner/partner.”
- Help bring home the value proposition of sustainability and cost control to consumers.
- Communicate common interest in compliance both from the “answerable to the state” perspective, as well as the sustainability for future growth, in language the emphasizes the benefit for consumers.
California water management has changed. The need to empower consumers toward personal water management and conservation has changed. The need to segregate and manage outdoor from indoor water use has changed. Subeca AMIoT is here to help your agency navigate that change like no other solution.