Since launching in January of 2016, the California Data Collaborative has made substantial progress towards its long term vision of integrating the entire lifecyle of water use data. Focused on the historic water efficiency actions taken by water managers in the drought, our phase one pilot has focused on urban customer water use to accelerate learning what works at the local level to inform smart statewide efficiency.
First, it will accelerate the measurements that water managers need to effectively manage water demand. Currently, research into the effectiveness of price, messaging, workshops and other water demand management questions are too often tackled by looking at old research surveys and doing quick back of the envelop calculations rather than looking at actual analytics customized to a utility's unique service area.
Second, California currently collects a variety of reported utility-level water usage metrics through the State Water Resources Control Board conservation program (monthly averages since 2013), Department of Water Resources Urban Water Management Plan program (annual averages last updated in 2010), and the Clean Drinking Water program. Our data infrastructure will streamline the time intensive reporting requirements mandated on local water utilities by the state through automated queries and table creation.
Third, this data infrastructure will enable the deployment of targeted marketing and customer engagement strategies to influence conservation. This sort of behavioral science is standard practice in web companies and is becoming increasingly prevalent in government as evidenced by Obama’s executive order on September 15, 2015.
Together this new data infrastructure enables a new and more modern way to manage water as we outlined in our feature June 2015 paper in the journal of the American Water Works Association on how data can help utilities adapt to future water uncertainty.