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

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid