Achieving Water Quality and Conservation Goals with the Help of 311 CRM Software from CivicPlus®
How Three Communities are Using Tech to Help Solve Unique Water Conservation Challenges
- Less than 2% of the Earth’s water supply is fresh water.
- Of all the Earth’s water, 97% is salt water found in oceans and seas
- Only 1% of the Earth’s water is available for drinking water; two percent is frozen
- Every day in the United States, we drink about 110 million gallons of water
- Landscaping accounts for about half the water Californians use at home, while showers account for another 18 percent
Another Fact: Water conservation is a national priority that falls partly on public works leaders in our communities to help address it locally. We were pleased to sit down with three of our #CPFamily members to learn what systems and technologies they are implementing to address their unique water conservation needs. Their stories inspire our continued innovation for our citizen relationship management software and SeeClickFix resident app—tools communities use as part of their conservation strategies.
Foster City, CA – How the City Addressed a Water Shortage Emergency with Transparency and Education
Due to extended drought conditions, on June 6, 2022, the Estero Municipal Improvement Distric declared a water shortage emergency for Foster City, CA. This is one of the latest examples of why water conservation is being discussed and addressed with more urgency as droughts become more frequent, last longer, and natural water resources continue to dwindle in certain regions. As a result, the City knew it might need to put in place measures to conserve water in the community. Still, one challenge in enforcing restrictions is having an effective way to identify, report, track, and respond to issues or violations. Foster City had been through this before and saw an opportunity to leverage its CivicPlus Citizen Relationship Management (CRM) system and integrated SeeClickFix resident app, which it has branded “Foster City Access,” to help identify and address issues on a micro-level.
According to Rob Lasky, Foster City IT Manager, “Water conservation is one of those things that will be highly visible for the foreseeable future. If the state says to cut consumption by a certain percentage, we have to figure out how to do that. The City can do some things, but it’s up to the residents to do the lion’s share of the work. Where we can make a difference is awareness and education, we can say here’s a bunch of tools and then help you use them. The other big facet of what we can impact is transparency; we’ve been trying to get more granular information to the water users so they can track things like hourly consumption. That’s been eye-opening for some people.”
Lasky sees the benefits of clear, accessible two-way communication and notes that the open dialogue between residents and local government is crucial. CivicPlus helped to facilitate such engagements.
“It’s important to let people see what’s going on and have them in on the conversation as their ticket is being worked on,” said Lasky. “It’s great to be able to allow them to post from their phone wherever they are at the time. It’s huge to be able to give them something accessible and responsive that they can use on any device rather than having to remember to call the City when they get back to their house and look up the number and do all that. It’s great that we can have people call us and report issues, but we need something that people have in the palm of their hands as they come across the issue. Having that consistent communication back and forth is why [the SeeClickFix app] has definitely become where we’re centering all our resident issues.”
Burlington, VT – How the City Reimagined Stormwater Management
Many residents are unaware of or don’t understand the systems, regulations, and fees associated with water, sewer, and stormwater management. It’s even harder for them to know and be aware of their role in upholding water quality in their communities. The City of Burlington, Vermont, knew what was on the line if there was a lack of public understanding, unsafe practices, or unintentional challenges to the City’s efforts to provide clean and safe water to the community.
In 2009, the City of Burlington established a dedicated stormwater management program to address required state and federal stormwater permits. It wasn’t long after that the City implemented the CivicPlus CRM solution and SeeClickFix resident app and quickly saw a significant increase in reporting. As a result, hundreds of issues related to water, drainage, sewer, and stormwater within Burlington became opportunities to give residents positive civic experiences through efficient, effective service. In addition, the solution helped the City expand and accelerate its efforts to maintain and improve water quality in the community.
Corona, CA – How the City Conserved 4.4 Billion Gallons of Water with the Help of SeeClickFix
The City of Corona, CA, is another community in a drought-prone region. Its leaders needed to conserve water resources and sought a way to get the public’s buy-in. Tom Moody, General Manager of the City of Corona Department of Water and Power, knew there was only one way to get it done: working with residents.
“I am appreciative of the water conservation efforts of the residents and businesses of Corona and their diligence toward helping the City achieve our water conservation goals,” said Moody. “Together, we can continue to be more water conscious and preserve this precious resource.”
The City saw the potential for resident requests to help with conservation efforts, adopted CivicPlus’ CRM solution and the SeeClickFix resident app, and utilized the following water-related categories:
- Water Conservation Issues (Not in a Park/Parkway)
- Water and Sewer Service Issues (Including Fire Hydrants and Water Lines)
- Storm Drain Maintenance
- Water Quality Issues
- Storm Water Issues
- Water Pressure Issues
Moody and other City officials were correct in their prediction that giving a voice to residents to report issues would be critical to conservation. This straightforward method of reporting allowed residents to be engaged, provided City officials with new information and data to analyze that they might not have otherwise had, and promoted open and informative communications around a precious resource.
If your community faces water conservation challenges and needs a technology solution to crowdsource water and stormwater maintenance repair needs from the public, talk to us about the capabilities of our Citizen Relationship Management solution.