NASA stated that 2014 was the “Earth’s warmest in 134 years of records”, and 2015 is set to be even hotter as the Earth’s average surface temperature continues to rise. Water conservation efforts are popping up all around California, as the state grapples with the effects of climate change. As the state’s snowpack has diminished year after year for the last few decades, state lawmakers have stepped up and finally put some concrete plans in place. Last year, Governor Jerry Brown declared California to be in a “drought state of emergency.” In April 2015, for the first time in state history, Governor Brown ordered mandatory water reduction by 25% in the State of California. Failure to comply with state regulations could see fines of up to $10,000 for water districts that fail to meet their targets.
California is renowned for being the base for many leading innovators in new technology, yet, as noted by CNN’s Heather Kelley, “surprisingly, given its California location, Silicon Valley isn’t a hotbed of drought and water research.”
“The State [of California] is fining people for turning on their sprinklers when it rains; this is simply a knee-jerk reaction to the severity of the drought crisis we’re facing in California. We should be leveraging smart technology to incentivize and make it easier for people to rein in their water use”, said Manrique Brenes, CEO of Blossom.
Blossom, a California-based startup, sells a ‘smart watering controller’ that uses cloud data and intuitive smart technology to help their customers save money and reduce their water usage by 30%. Blossom’s CEO Manrique Brenes realized that his company could do something that would help their state cope with the ongoing drought – Blossom has the ability to aggregate anonymous user data on how weather, region and watering requirements all relate. They will be able to use this data to help local water districts and municipalities better understand the effectiveness of their policies and pricing.
The Metropolitan Water District has responded to the drought crisis with their ongoing ‘Cash for Grass’ incentive program: currently residents can receive rebates of up to $2 per square for turf removal. However according to a MWD staff report, the ‘Cash for Grass’ money won’t last until the end of the year, despite the program receiving an additional funding of $350 million intended to last until the end of 2016. The ‘Cash for Grass’ program can only be a short-term fix for what is arguably an ongoing environmental crisis not just for California, but the nation.
“We know we can leverage technology to help us reduce our water usage in a more intelligent way. Let’s make California a leader on this issue, and harness the power of smart technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) to drive innovative solutions for these environmental issues”, said Brenes.
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