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Waterlogic clean water scholarship: the 2017 winner

Power of education

To support innovative and creative students across the US, Waterlogic opened The Waterlogic Clean Water Scholarship in 2015 to students who are enrolled in college or will be in the upcoming academic year. Over the years, the Waterlogic team have enjoyed the process of the competition - this includes reading each of your essays and picking a winner! This year, we were happy to see so many great entries that demonstrated a rich understanding of the current climate and water issues that we are faced with.

We received an overwhelming number of entries from all over the US and after close review, we are pleased to announce the winner of the 2017 Clean Water Competition is Morgan DiCarlo who attends Virginia Tech.

Morgan was successful in clearly outlining the way people can start cutting back on water consumption today to prevent wasting water. Congratulations Morgan! Keep scrolling to read Morgan's essay submission.

We would like to thank and congratulate all the participants for their submissions. Your hard work and effort make helped to make this contest a success – Thank you. We wish you the best of luck in your studies.

In your opinion, what is one way people can start cutting back on water consumption today to prevent wasting water?

My solution to water scarcity is to effectively promote water conservation, particularly by linking these decision-making models with real time data from household sensors to motivate people to use less water. Water conservation is the cheapest and most energy efficient method of preserving the supply of available water, and the key is changing the way people value water. Smart sensors, installed in household water appliances, can monitor and collect consumption behavior. These sensors send automatic updates to mobile devices whenever there are abnormalities in the water usage, such as a faucet left running [a current proprietary example of this type of sensor is called Driblet]. Connecting people directly to their water usage data through real time alerts would prompt us to stop and think about water use, combating our ingrained mindset that water is cheap and plentiful. Notifying people of their water consumption on their mobile devices can effectively call attention to water overuse in our plugged in society.

The approach to implement this idea is:

First, create a conservation focused agent- based model from existing studies. In agent-based modeling (ABM), a system is modeled as a collection of decision-making entities. The model exhibits behavior patterns and provides valuable information about the system it emulates, an approach often used in business applications about consumer decisions. Policymakers and water utility companies are simulated as agents with the power to make water pricing structures, and consumers are agents that select responsive behaviors to the decisions of other agents.

Second, establish connectivity to smart devices to monitor water usage. Connectivity dramatically increases the information available to the consumer. Smart water meters that connect to household pipes and to the Wi-Fi network have sensors that can track inflow rate in real time. A smart water meter can be added at the household level which tracks incoming water flow and reports consumption data via a phone application.

Third, apply the model to a case study. To evaluate if the real time notifications are actually promoting conservation, a small neighborhood with comparably sized households and a singular water source, like a condominium complex, should be used for a case study. The output of the model should be sets of scenarios showing the user several options to reduce water consumption. For example, the model can compare one family to other households in their neighborhood, and the family will receive a text notification like an update. Your water use this week exceed the neighborhood average for households of your size. This social comparison to neighbors prompts the individual to reconsider their usage and make decisions to conserve. Other text message update examples are re: Check device [showerhead] has been running for more than three hours and water bill this month exceeds last months, which could prompt people to take action about water usage in their homes.

My idea integrates water usage into everyday life, connecting people to the water supply issue through our smart devices. Using the surplus of data in our technological age to confront the issue of water scarcity is a novel solution, capitalizing an existing resource to conserve a dwindling one. Positioning usage information at our fingertips will revolutionize the way people value water. Increasing awareness is absolutely vital to shifting the public perception of water’s worth. Prompting conservation through real-time notifications can empower the general public to make more informed and more sustainable choices about their water consumption.

For details of the 2018 Waterlogic Clean Water Scholarship competition, keep visiting the Waterlogic Blog or follow Waterlogic USA on Facebook.