Tackling water conservation with big data

Sustaining the American Southwest's growing population has been a matter of concern for years now. Despite the region's inhospitable desert environment, the area has seen a massive influx of inhabitants recently. According to the United States Global Change Research Program, the increasing number of people will continue to compete for a scarce and rapidly depleted resource – water. Exacerbating this issue even further will be projected climate changes over the course of the next century. By 2090, the average temperature in the Southwest is expected to increase by 4 to 10 degrees F above the historical baseline.

Water availability becoming an increasing problem
Inhabitants will not have to wait 100 years for water access to become a problem. Major reservoirs have been faced with overuse and lower levels as a result of extended drought conditions. For instance, the American Southwest should be using at most 40 percent of the water contained in the Colorado River Basin, reported Science Daily. In reality, the region's denizens are tapping 76 percent of it.

The effects of widespread water scarcity could be devastating. The Economist reported that a recent study conducted by the Bureau of Reclamation in conjunction with the seven states residing within the Colorado River Basin found that continued consumption rates could rapidly deplete available water in the area. Without intervention, the reservoir will experience a median shortfall of 3.2 million acre-feet of water by 2060. That is approximately five times as much as the citizens of Los Angeles alone consume in a year.

More effective water consumption through big data
One potential solution to the region's water shortage concerns is big data software. ZDNet reported that Desert Mountain, a residential community home to 4,500 people and six championship golf courses, has begun deploying data analytics tools to conserve the amount of water used to maintain those properties.

Data analytics tools are used to collect and process information from a range of sources including water sensors, soil moisture levels, weather forecasts and fertilizer applications. Officials can then determine how much water they will likely need to keep the community's vegetation thriving as well as how to effectively plot out watering schedules and allocate resources across the property. The program's operators expect the initiative to result in a 20 percent reduction in the community's water consumption levels.

With water becoming an increasingly scarce resource in the region, effective consumption methods will become a necessity of survival. Big data hadoop solutions can provide officials with a powerful tool to prevent the depletion of an essential resource.

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April 10, 2013 at 7:50 pm

The article suggests a 20% reduction in demand. Over what time frame?

In deployments of WaterSmart Software, which uses data analytics and consumer presentment to educate consumers, residential water demand dropped by 5% in just six months and persists thereafter. So we now know that behavior change backed by personalized data analytics, can be considered equivalent to other water conservation methods like retrofits.

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