May 24, 2013 By Colin Wood
In an era of green living and sustainability, conservation of water and energy is imperative. And in Davis, Calif., city officials are helping residents put their water usage into perspective.
On April 1, the city began offering a free Web-based tool that allows customers to see how many gallons of water they use each day and compare their use to properties of similar size. The project, which cost the city more than $108,000, was developed to increase awareness of water usage that would lead to long-term water conservation -- and help customers save on their monthly bills.
And there's good reason for this conservation effort: Water costs in Davis are expected to triple over the next five years.
One of the biggest reasons for the rate increase, says Diana Jensen, principal civil engineer and manager of the city's water division, is the city’s need for a new surface water treatment plant and pipeline -- the development of which voters approved in March. Currently, she said, Davis gets all of its water from the ground, but at least a dozen of the city’s wells were contaminated with compounds like Chromium-6. “Going after surface water was identified 20 years ago as a good path to move toward for improved water quality and reliability,” she said. “Growth really doesn’t play into it at all. It’s about water quality, and reliability.”
A surface water treatment facility in neighboring Woodland will treat water from the Sacramento River and pipe it to Davis, supplementing the groundwater supply. And the Web-based application, developed by WaterSmart Software, will encourage people to conserve water and put usage into perspective, Jensen said.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.