What is your H2O score? The H20Score effort is a social enterprise designed to empower water consumers (both business and residential) to become more water efficient by helping them understand their water usage. Basically you enter your home or business address and how many people are at the location and it puts that location's per capita water use on a nifty Water-Use-O-Meter for contemplation. The idea is presumably to get those users thinking about their water use compared to other similar sized households, and more importantly, how they can use even less water.
The project is in the last few days of a fund-raising campaign - trying to raise enough capital to obtain the data from 100 additional cities in the final 100 days of 2011. The data base runs from individual addressed water use data obtained by the project through freedom of information requests or being provided by the cities voluntarily. This data is then processed and put out there for the world to see - as long as you enter a valid address within a city contained in the database.
I don't know what to think. The effort probably doesn't hurt anything and should get some users thinking about water conservation in their municipal setting. While I'm comfortable with the H2OScore's motives I'm not completely convinced of everyone else's motives. For example, the group just added the City of Wheeling, IL to their data base, and they say on their blog: "Recently, Wheeling has been planning development centered around its Metra ties with Chicago." You follow Wheeling's "development plan" link provided by the blog, and read: "Each design....functions as a step toward a final goal, bringing the village a flexible framework to guide future development."
I have to ask... Does asking everyone in Wheeling to cinch up their belts and conserve water to promote future development constitute a true water use conservation paradigm? Or a planned growth and development program based on the cheapest source of new water available that is more likely to increase water use in the long run? Of course, there are personal benefits to conserving water, too (namely lower water bills) regardless of what motives your city might have.
I guess it all depends on why you want to conserve water in the first place and who wants it done. If Wheeling is currently sustainable in their water use and wants more growth, then they'll want to conserve water use hoping to stay sustainable after the new growth. If they're not sustainable any longer and need conservation to regain sustainability, then new development should be off the table. If H2OScore wants to bring about water use conservation for the sake of using less water, then I'm guessing this may not be the best way to achieve it unless the city has this goal as well. All this means in some cases H2OScore will be helping the cause for water conservation, and in some cases could be assisting in creating more growth and water use demand. However, in either case it could be the individual water users themselves who get a more clear picture of the realities of water use - both their own and of their city fathers. This would be beneficial.
I don't know if the Water-Use-O-Meter comparisons are exactly correct yet, but I like very much the fact that they will eventually expand the comparisons to make them much more meaningful - hence more individually useful. The triple comparison is a very good idea.
To the extent that cities really want to develop a water use conservation ethic in their water users - for the sake of using less water - I applaud the efforts of the H2O group. To the extent that individual water users can use this tool to become aware of their use in relation to the total water supply, and what decisions are being made about all these elements, I think this effort can be positive as well.
If you're interested, visit their webpage (linked, above) and consider a donation. I thank David Snopek for his dialog in helping me understand this interesting effort of empowering individuals to eventually get the water conservation they expect and want. Pay them a visit.