Here’s What Happens When A City in California Takes Up Automated Enforcement of Water Conservation Rules
Advances in remote sensing and real-time monitoring technology are rapidly and radically lowering the costs of detecting violations, to almost zero. They also have the potential to dramatically improve the accuracy of environmental enforcement. The authors of a new experimental study analyze the efforts of the city of Fresno, Calif., one of the largest municipal water utilities, to adopt universal smart meters for single-family residential customers.
As you’ll see in the interactive below, the study’s results are dramatic: using smart meters to automatically enforce watering regulations decreased water consumption, but at same time drastically increased customer complaints. This ultimately caused the program to be cancelled, highlighting how political considerations limit technological solutions to enforcement challenges and, therefore, their take-up.
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