District partners with Ocala on WaterSmart program, reveals water savings

MAITLAND, Fla., March 28, 2016 — A recent partnership between the St. Johns River Water Management District and the City of Ocala has saved over 4 million gallons of water in 5 months. The savings were achieved after implementing a water-savings WaterSmart program in October 2015 across 5,000 residential utility customers.

“We are passionate about collaborating on water conservation projects that help communities ensure sustainable use of Florida’s water,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “Not only has this project helped reduce water use, but it’s also raised awareness for the need to conserve; both are critical parts of protecting our water supply.”

“We are thrilled with the results and the upward trend in water savings attributed to the WaterSmart program,” said Ocala’s Director of Water Resources, Jeff Halcomb. “We have to adopt new and innovative technology in order to address our water supply concerns and keep Ocala growing. We hope that other utilities will inquire into using WaterSmart’s programs and see if it is right for them.”

“Ongoing population growth and Silver Spring’s fragile ecosystem make improving our water systems more important than ever,” said Robin Gilthorpe, CEO of WaterSmart. “The District and Ocala’s foresight to invest in new technological approaches continues to set a national example when it comes to better managing our water.”

Since the WaterSmart program launched, the City of Ocala has improved water efficiency by an average of 3 percent, a savings equivalent to over 12 football fields covered 12-inches deep in water. The savings percentage followed a positive trend in February as water savings averaged 4 percent. Partners anticipate an average of 5 percent water savings, totaling over 15 million gallons of water saved, over the one-year program.

WaterSmart, which has partnerships with more than 50 water utilities nationally and has verified nearly 3 billion gallons of water saved through its programs, utilizes social norms in conjunction with comprehensive data analytics and targeted messaging to modify water use behavior. Residents receive WaterSmart’s mobile, print, and email Home Water Reports which outline each home’s water use in relation to homes of similar size and climate. In addition, residents can log into a mobile and online Customer Portal, which provides personalized information about resident’s household water use and tailored water-saving recommendations.

The City of Ocala was selected for the year-long program because of their proximity to Silver Springs, where a decrease in water use is expected to have a positive impact on the springs.

The district committed $75,000 to the project as part of a cooperative cost-share program. The district offers several cost-sharing programs which assist in funding projects related to sustainable water resources, providing flood protection and enhancing conservation efforts. For more information about the current cost-share application process, visit www.sjrwmd.com/funding/.