News / USA

Water-Saving College Students Pour It On

Wisconsin class takes action on water conservation

H2O Score helps people calculate how much water they're using and offers tips on how to lower their water usage.
H2O Score helps people calculate how much water they're using and offers tips on how to lower their water usage.
Faiza Elmasry

What began as a classroom discussion in Wisconsin has blossomed into a national project to raise water conservation awareness and help people lower their daily water use.

Marquette University political science professor McGee Young taught a class on water policy last year.

The hours spent discussing worldwide water scarcity problems got his students thinking about local solutions.

“Obviously our resources were limited, so we couldn’t solve the problems of India, for example, but let’s look at our own backyard," Young says. "Here in Wisconsin, we’re blessed to be next to the Great Lakes. But not more than 20 miles from Milwaukee, there is the smaller city of Waukesha, which is running out of water. Waukesha is not able to get access to Lake Michigan water and so they’re faced with a real severe crisis.”

H2O Score

The class concluded that most Americans have no idea how much water they use. Without that information, Young says, it’s difficult to do something to reduce it. The typical water bill, he says, doesn’t provide much guidance.

“In most places, the water bills are not very user friendly. In Milwaukee, we get it once a quarter. The water company tells us how many hundreds of cubic feet we’ve used. To me, 100 cubic feet has no context. So if I use 20 in a quarter, was that good? Was that bad?”

So Young and his students developed H2O Score to answer those questions.

“We put together a website that takes people’s actual water usage and translates it into terms they understand, like average gallons-per-day, and allows them to compare to other similar households and then gives them tips for reducing the amount of water that they use.”

Political science major Daniel Beck is an H2O Score member. “It definitely made me much, much more aware of my water usage.”

Lessons learned

Beck says there are many ways to conserve water including taking shorter showers, checking faucets and toilets for leaks, and installing new products like low-flow shower heads. Being part of this project taught him other lessons, too.

“It’s given me an incredible amount of experience with a vast array of things: how a business gets started, how a business works," Beck says. "I’ve done everything from approaching local municipalities to get the information so we can put it through our website, doing market research and also working on a team.”

Local experts in water conservation accompany H2O Score members on their on-site consultations to local residents and businesses.

“They came in and we looked at everything that uses water in our restaurant,” says Peter Sandroni, who owns La Merando, a popular restaurant in Milwaukee. “From hand sinks in our bathroom to the dish machine in our kitchen, with everything in between, the water heater at the bar, the ice machine, all that stuff, we looked at.”

Water audit

After conducting that water audit, the group offered Sandroni tips for using water more efficiently.

“[They said] this is where you can immediately have an impact on lowering water consumption in your restaurant: low-flow water [faucets] at hand sinks in the bathrooms. Number two was in our dish area, we have a three-compartment sink and we have a dish machine," Sandroni says. "We have a spray nozzle that you use to kind of pre-rinse all the plates and pots and pans. We reduced the water flow coming out of those as well. Number three was asking customers if they wanted water, instead of automatically bringing water out to customers.”  

H2O Score founder Young says the positive feedback from the local residents and business owners encouraged him to expand the project, this time with a new class of students.

"We’re rolling out new pilot programs in small communities here in Wisconsin, redoing the website to make it more user-friendly, and now we’re getting feedback from people all over the country - water utility directors, individuals - who want to know how they can participate, too, because they want to save water, save money and make a difference in their communities.”

Every drop of water counts. That’s the message H2O Score hopes to drive home through its online tips and on-the-ground water conservation efforts.

You May Like

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid