Local village using money-saving software for their water bills

CREATED Feb. 19, 2013

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GRAFTON - Cutting back on your water usage will save you money, but soon people in Grafton may actually be rewarded for their conservation efforts.

Village Administrator Darrell Hofland said all signs point to a new purchase for Grafton.

"The village board, as late as last night, gave the thumbs-up," he said.

A thumbs-up for investing in H20score, a program that allows residents to monitor their water use online. Zach Krall believes this is forward thinking on Grafton’s part.

"We generally do waste a lot it seems like," he said. "We just don't even realize what we do sometimes."

And that’s exactly what H20score wants to cut back on. The program was developed in 2011 by students and staff at Marquette University. Nathan Conroy was a graduate student in the class responsible for establishing the idea.

"Homeowners who know how much they're using and understand how much they're using use less," he said.

H2Oscore shows how registered users how many gallons of water are used on a daily basis and tracks that over time.

The program is easy to use, residents in communities affiliated with the program just have to follow online instructions, enter the water utility account number and the program will keep track of the water usage automatically.

The best part about the program for residents: it’s FREE.

"That was critical, this matters only if a lot of people join the effort," said Conroy.

And people are starting to, especially with the extra reward incentive. For every gallon of water you save, you can earn cash off your next dinner at a local restaurant or save money on things like Pilates.

"Because this is all based on actual data and actual water coming through a water meter we can tell when people have reduced their use and these local businesses are ready to say thank you by rewarding those residents," Conroy clarifies.

And it doesn't have a huge price tag for local communities, the proposed fee for Grafton is $3,000 but negotiations are still in progress. Part of the reason the program is free to residents and relatively inexpensive for cities and villages is because the businesses that offer the rewards also help pay for the software.

“We found local businesses who are already making investments in the sustainability of our community and so what we do is connect them with homeowners who care about those efforts,” Conroy says.

Many companies are putting part of their marketing budget toward H2Oscore. And Hofland thinks this is a win for all, the village, its residents, local business, H2Oscore and the environment.

“We're very excited about being one of the first communities to be able to implement, I suspect similar software will be available nationwide,” he said.

And community members agree.

"It's our future that we've got to preserve," says Krall.

Milwaukee and Whitewater already use H2Oscore, Waukesha and Madison plan to start this spring and Grafton plans to start using it this fall.

Register for H2Oscore here.