Intro: Welcome to The Water Values Podcast. This is the podcast dedicated to water utilities, resources, treatment, reuse, and all things water. Now here’s your host, Dave McGimpsey. Dave: Hello and welcome to another session of The Water Values Podcast! As my son Joey said, I’m Dave McGimpsey. Thanks for joining me. Just a real quick note to start off – I’d really appreciate it if you could all go to http://thewatervalues.com and take the survey that’s linked on the homepage. Our first birthday is coming up, like next week, and I thought it’d be good to find out what you like and didn’t in the first year of The Water Values. Plus, it gives you an opportunity to provide some guidance on what topics you’d like me to focus on in the coming year. A big thanks to those of you that take just a few moments to complete the short, 10 question survey. Today’s podcast is the recording of the Q&A portion of the Western Governors’ Association Drought Forum webinar titled Community Outreach and Consumer Technology for Municipal Water Use. The webinar panelists include Robb Barnitt from Dropcountr, Nicole Seltzer from the Colorado Foundation for Water Education – she’s the first two-time guest whose appearances were recorded independently, and Jeff Tejral from Denver Water. The entire webinar is available online if you’d like to check it out and hear and see the presentations each panelist gave. It’s on the WGA’s website, and the link will be provided in the Show Notes. This is a fantastic roundtable discussion about municipal water use, conservation and customer engagement issues. With that said, let’s get on with it. Open the valves, fasten your seatbelts and here we go. *** Dave: Hey, thanks very much, Carlee. I’m all for making it easy on me, really appreciate your comments there. Well, it’s great to be here and I’m really looking forward to our program today. As Carlee mentioned, I’m Dave McGimpsey, a Denver-based attorney with Lewis Roca Rothgerber. We’re a law firm that has offices throughout the Southwest and Rocky Mountain Region. And as Carlee also indicated, I’m also host of The Water Values Podcast, which I’m sure you all download on multiple devices and listen to every week, religiously. Thank you all for attending this webinar. You will not be disappointed with the content that you are about to receive. I also want to thank the Western Governors’ Association for taking leadership on the issue of drought through this webinar series and its Drought Forum. Lots of organizations talk the talk, WGA is walking the walk.2005232244_1 2 Well, the title of this webinar, as Carlee indicated, is Community Outreach and Consumer Technology for Municipal Water Use. This, to me, is one of the fascinating topics upon which drought touches. Urban water conservation has made dramatic gains incrementally over the past twenty plus years as a conservation ethic has taken root in more and more communities and more and more people. And the incremental nature of our improved water usage is important to note because these conservation gains have not occurred overnight. They’re cultivated and developed over a long period of time. And that conservation ethic has also fostered a number of programs like programs implementing water fixtures, whether it’s retrofits or in new construction, and these conservation programs, including the water efficient fixture programs have helped drive down water usage over time. And these conservation programs need constant attention and tweaking if they’re going to be successful. So today we’re going to meet some of those people who have nurtured and who are nurturing the conservation ethic behind a lot of these conservation programs. WGA has procured three terrific panelists for this webinar, each with unique perspectives on community outreach and consumer technology in a municipal setting to help shine a light on this important and ongoing issue. I’ll now ask our presenters to introduce themselves very briefly, thirty seconds essentially telling us who they are, what company they’re with, and the perspective that they are representing. And then we’ll get started into their presentations. So with that being said, then we’ll get into the audience participation segment so, Robb, I’m going to throw it to you now to give your brief introduction. Robb: We’re a software company based just south of San Francisco. Our mission is really to connect end-users with the water that they are using. It gives them some insight to their true usage, as well as some actionable tips in terms of how to save water. Dave: Terrific. Nicole, how about you introduce yourself? Nicole: Good morning. My name is Nicole Seltzer. I’m the Executive Director of the Colorado Foundation for Water Education. We are a non-profit organization based in Denver, and we work state-wide in Colorado in order to provide education for our population on water issues and to get people to understand the basics and know how to be involved in making decisions around water and to help enhance the conversation about water around the state. Dave: Fantastic. And Jeff, how about your perspective? Jeff: Yeah, thanks, Dave. I’m Jeff Tejral from Denver Water. I’m the Manger of Conservation here. I’m representing the utility perspective for a very large utility and our role in engaging all of our customers to use water wisely and be efficient with this precious resource.2005232244_1 3 Dave: Terrific. Thanks very much for those brief introductions. We’ll start the moderated portion of our program now. I really want to kind of frame the municipal water use issue. And Jeff, I’ll throw this to you since you’re the utility. What, in your experience, what does municipal water use look like? Because we’ve talked a lot about residential, what’s your experience with municipal water use in general? Jeff: Yeah. Good question. Municipal water use is kind of, you could say it is about anything that happens in a town, village or city. Residential is what we generally think of and that’s indoor or outdoor for irrigation, but it is also our breweries, it’s our businesses, hotels, restaurants. We have bottling plants in our service area. So it’s a wide range. It could be used for cooling. It goes into use for industrial cleaning. All those uses are captured when we say municipal use. Dave: Ok. I’ll throw it to you, Robb. What’s your experience with Dropcountr and the utilities you’ve worked with? Are they primarily targeted toward the residential users or are there commercial users that are looking at this technology that you’re using? Robb: You know, I think it is all over the map, Dave. I think that primarily, our product is designed for residential engagement. So that’s the way it’s being applied to date with some of our utility partners. That said, there’s utility for sure in terms of distilling information into usable form and delivering insights and creating action at the commercial level as well. We have had some conversations with some big commercial entities in some of our partner service areas. Dave: Ok. Nicole, you made a very good point that there’s a lot of complexities around water. And you make an effort to communicate those simply. What types of outreach have you found to be most effective in getting the word out about water usage? Nicole: I think there is no silver bullet. In my opinion, what you need is a mix of different kinds of programs that reach across the ideological and socio-economic boundaries. So you need a mix of programs that are on the ground, that make a connection between people’s everyday lives and the different sort of management styles for water. You need to create a sense of personal responsibility through interaction and experience. So getting people together, having conversations, seeing the infrastructure, understanding how it sort of plays into the water they get in their homes. That’s very important. But you also need to have sort of bite-sized information people can easily access when they have five minutes and they want to learn something about water. You need to sort of push that out, as well as pull people in. Then you also need in-depth information for people. I call it the difference between the browsers versus the researchers. You’ve got to have information that is bite-sized and quick and easy to digest, but then you also need to have sort of long-form journalism or more sort of in-depth2005232244_1 4 research reports that people can really get into if they find something that really piques their interest. And so I don’t think there is sort of one program that works best. I think you have to hit people on multiple levels. Dave: That’s a great point. I think that there’s segmentation within the customer base and each one could need a different type of content to get to them about their water usage. Jeff, what’s been your experience at Denver Water with that? Jeff: Yeah. I think I agree completely with what Nicole just said that market segmentation is so important and the more we work with communicating efficient use to customers, we find out more and more about how to do that better. And a good example of that is we have had a water budget program where we communicate how much is an efficient use for these larger HOAs, community associations and parks, schools, districts like that, that are big irrigators. As we set that up, we found that some of them this report worked really well for because it really hit their needs. Whereas other ones, because they were a smaller area, they had different complexities of indoor use with the big cooling tower or something or industrial process, this report didn’t work very well. We’re having to rethink how we communicate to that customer type and really get that product to be what is going to help them get where they’re going. It’s difficult, and you don’t know what you don’t know until you actually start working with the customer and figuring it out. Dave: Robb, do you have any thoughts on customer segmentation and communication to them? Robb: Well, I think a lot of the market research we’ve done in the form of survey work with end-users, there are a few things that come out. Certainly lack of knowledge in terms of how much water individuals are using is a consistent one. People just really don’t have the connection to how much water they’re using. Without knowing that, it’s difficult to really identify ways to conserve. So if you ask folks to guess how much water they think use, they consistently guess about 50% of their actual usage, which is part of the problem right there. And furthermore if you ask them to guess how they compare to others like them, fundamentally, everyone thinks that they are better than average, and this is an element of behavioral psychology that we’ve tried to deploy in the Dropcountr product. Dave: Sure. When we come to conservation programs that are implemented, Jeff, you indicated a number of elements for a conservation program, and rebates seem to be a pretty consistent thing. What are some issues that surround rebates for utilities to consider when they’re thinking about a rebate program? Jeff: Yeah. That’s a great question. Rebates, when we look at them, there’s primarily two reasons you’d want to do a rebate. One, you’re trying to incentivize getting your marketplace, your actual, what is being sold out there in the marketplace to change, and if you can change that marketplace, everybody else that comes in after you stop doing the rebate will probably get that2005232244_1 5 better, new product that wouldn’t have been there. The other one is you are trying to increase how quickly people adopt these new technologies, so you want to look at how soon is something coming to you, like how soon is this is this horizon of where you really need these either reductions or efficiencies. So you would want to set up your rebate program to get those. You’d have to start to look at your service area to know how old is your plumbing fixtures because of age of housing. You want to know how big is your use for outdoor irrigation, and those kinds of things. Also knowing what’s acceptable in your community. You have to do a lot of outreach as Robb talked about. You need to do surveys and get out and say what’s acceptable, what’s not within our community? Dave: And I think that really touches on a thread that ran through all three presentations and that is really customer engagement. Dropcountr engages with customers through putting the usage right there. Nicole really emphasized customer engagement, and you’re emphasizing customer engagement. Nicole, I’ll put it to you. What do you see as effective strategies for engaging that customer on water usage? Nicole: Yeah. I think that’s a great question. I’m going to sort of rely on something that is fundamental to the environmental education profession, which is something called Bloom’s taxonomy. And if you don’t know what that is, it is basically a kind of a pyramid that was created in the 1950’s that defines the process of learning. And basically what it says, and you can Google Bloom’s taxonomy and kind of see what it looks like, but basically it’s a pyramid that says that you need to remember a fact before you can understand its implications and then apply that understanding to modify your behavior. So there’s a series of steps you have to go through in order to get somebody from not knowing something, to knowing something, to understanding its implications and then to applying it to their life. And ultimately, in this context, we’re talking about influencing their behavior around their consumption of water. And so when you design educational programs, you sort of have to think through each of those steps and say, “Ok, how do we introduce basic information that people can access easily and remember. And then once they have the information and we know that they can sort of understand it, how do you get them to care enough of apply it to their life? And how do you arm them with the facts of or the different behavior changes that you are actually looking for?” And those would be in the form of rebates or tearing out your lawn or putting in an automated sprinkler timer. So it’s this whole kind of series of actions that you have to go through from basic awareness to behavior change. Dave: And Robb, you bring into this conversation the behavioral psychology. You indicated that this was the proverbial “keeping up with the Joneses” during your presentation. What type of2005232244_1 6 water savings are you typically seeing from year-to-year through utilities that are using your product? Robb: Well, it’s early days for us, Dave. So we don’t have any results that we have released so far, but this has been shown to be successful, especially in the energy space. Often folks see about a 5% reduction in energy or water just through making that information available to endusers and again, giving them some context and motivation to keep up with others like them. Dave: Ok. One of the things that you indicated with Dropcountr is that it provides information in ways customers can understand specifically in units of consumption. I’ve been billed before in CCF’s, and I have no idea what a CCF is, but how does that engagement with the customer in terms of providing information in an understandable format, how have you seen that really help move the product along and further customer education about this? Robb: Yeah, sure. That’s one of the first reactions we get from folks when they actually sign up for the service and they can see how much they use day-on-day in real gallons. And the response is, “Wow, I had no idea how much water I used!” And even in my particular case, I’m on Dropcountr and I see my hourly water usage data, and I took a look at my daily trend and saw a big spike at 4:00 a.m., and said, “Wow, why am I using 700 hundred gallons at 4:00 a.m. in the morning?” And with a little sleuthing, I understood that that was when my sprinklers went off. That definitely changed my behavior just having access to that information and a little bit of insight from the logic behind the app. Dave: Ok. Well, we’ll move on to some listener and attendee questions. The first one is for Jeff, and to what factors do you attribute the dip in single-family household water use? Jeff: Yeah. I think the factors are three-fold, and number one is new technology. We’re seeing, if you look back to the 1980’s we had a flush volume for a standard toilet was 5 gallons and it moved down to 3 1/2, then down to 1.6. We now are rebating for less than one gallon per flush on a toilet, so that’s a really good example of, and that’s about a quarter of the water use in a typical home is for toilet flushing. You’ve reduced that from 5 gallons to less than one, that’s 20% of the use, but still getting a good product out of it, a good use. The other one is that we have more people paying attention. The idea that water is important is much more prevalent today than it was twenty years ago. And that goes to the education. That goes to what the news has been saying. The drought actually helps us quite a bit by getting some attention on this. And the last one is the utility that we have actually put in programs to actually get things to happen, and we’ve started to manage demand-side reductions versus just saying that’s a thing2005232244_1 7 that happened. So, I think we’re seeing this happen across the Western U.S. and across the country, and it can probably lead back to those three factors for the most part. Dave: Ok. A question for Robb: There are various companies like yours that are customizing utility records and bills to the customer. Doesn’t your app only work if Dropcountr has a contract with the customer’s utility? Robb: That is true. So, we function through partnership with the water utility, at which point we take the meter data and customer data that they have in-house and then we analyze that and present it, again, back to the customer. So the questioner is correct. They can only connect with their information if we have an existing partnership with their utility. That said, we have an interesting feature on the app, if you were to download it, that allows end-users who don’t see their utility representative as a respective partner, it’s an opportunity for them to actually contact their utility and request more granular and convenient access to their information. Dave: Got it. And there was another question for you: Where are you getting the data to make the comparison of homes similar to yours? Are you using government databases or property size and census information? Robb: Sure. So we mine a lot of existing data sets with respect to parcel size, property size and then when an individual signs up for the app, they go through a simple, three question sign-up process. One of those questions is related to household occupancy, and that’s how we base our indoor water budgeting number, as well as use that to base our comparison to others. Dave: Sure. We have one for Nicole: Has the Colorado Foundation for Water Education used games and game theory to build or promote water education either with adult or with student populations? Nicole: Yeah. That’s a great question. We have not. And that kind of goes back to the point that I made initially that I think, at least in Colorado, we’re somewhat behind the curve in terms of using technology in water communications and education. I know a couple of people in Colorado that have started down the path of development of some of the gamification apps and web-based programs. We have not gotten into that yet, but it is definitely on my radar screen, and it’s something that we’re talking about in terms of next steps for our education programs. Dave: Great. We have one for Jeff but I think, Nicole, you might also weigh in on this after Jeff has spoken. How are you educating or working with developers building new housing developments? Jeff: Oh, that is a very timely question. We are actually working on that. I’m in a week-long meeting discussing our role in new development practices. How do we bring on new types of2005232244_1 8 development that we’ve never seen before. These are denser, bigger houses at times, very close together, sometimes stacked, sometimes side-by-side. And how do we get those to be the most water-use efficient they can be? Some of that is to start looking at educating, is our first one to say “Why is building with water-use efficiency important to the developer?” I mean number one for us is to say, “The less water these customers use if they come on efficient, that’s more development that we can do down the road.” And it will keep your rates lower, it will keep your tap fees lower. And I think in the end, we’re going to look at how we incentivize these groups to come in, a developer to say we’re going to build really great product, really dense, very high water-use efficient and how do we incentivize that on the tap fee? How do we incentivize that in some way so that the best stuff out there really is going to shine? Dave: Ok. Nicole, do you have any thoughts on that? Nicole: Yeah, I do. So we’re doing a couple of things right now that kind of have to do, not necessarily with the development community itself but with those that have regulatory or decision-making oversight of the development process. So, we are working with a lot of the county commissioners and the planning departments on the Front Range. We’re developing a new educational program that’s kicking off in April that’s specifically geared toward those individuals and to try to get people to sort of understand the nexus between land use planning and water resources management and how different development styles can impact water use. And so we’re working on, right now, a series of educational programs starting in June, or really starting in April, and then those will roll out through the Summer and the Fall that will be specifically focused on sort of land use planning and the nexus of water supply. So if you’re interested in that stay tuned, we’ll have a lot coming out in the next six months. Dave: Ok. Another question for Jeff: How has total municipal water production at Denver Water changed? And a related question: Are cities in the Southwest concerned about economic growth being curtailed by limited water supplies?. Jeff: Yeah, total water production has, I mean if you look back, I mean, every year is slightly different because we have irrigation use, sometimes it is very hot and dry and so is spiked up. Sometimes it cold and rainy, and it comes back down. But if you look back, our general trend from 1975 or so, 1980 to 2015, we’ve been on a slight decrease on overall water demand through that time period. Even as population has added in three hundred-fifty thousand more people. Now I wish I had put that on my slideshow so people could see, but it’s certainly out and available even on our website. But we’ve seen a fairly good trend of moving down specifically since our drought of 2002 was really our high point. The years 2000 and 2001 were really the most water that we ever produced, and we have not gone back to that for the last fifteen years.2005232244_1 9 Dave: Ok and our final question is for Robb: What is it about an app that is particularly powerful for water users? Can this or other apps help users better understand the water system as a whole or just their own use? Robb: That’s an interesting question. I think, just going back to the ubiquity of mobile and the fact that 75% of Americans now own a Smartphone. That is really the medium through which most folks track information, personal or otherwise. And so I think that really speaks to our thesis that delivering this information via mobile is really the way not only to drive awareness with respect to conservation and personal use but really drive action, making water use personal through that connection with end users. Dave: Terrific. Well, I want to thank you, the panelists, Robb, Nicole and Jeff for a terrific job today. And it’s been a great pleasure hosting and moderating this webinar. I’ll throw it back to Carlee for some final housekeeping. Thank you very much. We’ve learned a lot today. I really appreciate everyone’s time. Thank you for your attendance. * * * Dave: Hope you enjoyed that discussion with three great leaders in the world of municipal water conservation. There were lots of things to focus on in the conversation, but I’ll provide just one rather simple, but incredibly important, takeaway. And that’s communication. Last week, you heard Susan Latvala discuss how important communication was between a utility’s board and its staff. This week, the conversation turned to communication and engagement with water users. To me, that’s the key. We need to continuously engage with water users, with board members, with utility staff and with each other generally on water issues if we are going to have any hope of continuing the progress we’ve made on water efficiency and water use. Again, a rather simple takeaway, but one that is so important. Well, you can check the Show Notes out for this session at http://thewatervalues.com/pod53. Leave a comment on the Show Notes or email me at email@example.com. You can also tweet at me @DTM1993, and you can tweet about the podcast using #WaterValues. And don’t forget to rate and please review the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, and other podcast directories. And please don’t forget to tell your friends and colleagues about the podcast and to sign up for The Water Values Newsletter, which can be done at http://thewatervalues.com. In closing, please remember to keep the core message of The Water Values Podcast in mind as you go about your daily business. Water is our most valuable resource. So please join me by going out into the world and acting like it.2005232244_1 10 Outro: You’ve been listening to The Water Values Podcast. Thank you for spending some of your day with my dad and me. Dave: Thank you for tuning in to the disclaimer. I’m a lawyer licensed in Colorado and Indiana. And nothing in this podcast should be taken as providing legal advice or as establishing an attorney-client relationship with you or with anyone else. Additionally, nothing in this podcast should be considered a solicitation for professional employment. I’m just a lawyer that finds water issues interesting and that believes greater public education is needed about water issues. And that includes enhancing my own education about water issues because no one knows everything about water.