H2OScore.com, a website crafted from a Marquette water policy and environmental ethics course, announced Monday that Milwaukee residents can now track their home water use on the site.
H2Oscore, created by associate professor of political science, McGee Young, and his class from last spring, offers services available to Whitewater and Monona, but Milwaukee residents are the first to be able to see a breakdown of their home water usage compared to their neighbors, based on city records.
Young said the website was the result of a class project in which he challenged the students to make a difference in water consumption.
“Growing population and a limited supply (of water) means at some point we have to figure out how to get more water to the places that need it,” he said. “Nobody has really done this before. We kind of approached it like a puzzle.”
“We know that water conservation is a bit of a challenge,” he continued. “Nobody has really figured out how to conserve water at a mass level.”
Young said the biggest barrier to water conservation is a lack of information.
“People need more information about their water use so they could conserve more,” he said. “We understood that to be part of the problem, and people said they don’t want to do this just by themselves – they want to do it as a community.”
H2OScore has made a lot of progress since its beginning, Young said, but the ultimate test of the site’s effectiveness will be its use by the general public.
Jame Schaefer, a Marquette associate professor of theology, said the site has the potential to be used worldwide.
“We don’t want to abuse, misuse and overuse something that is so important for all people and all species,” he said. “The consumption of water is important for our whole hydro cycle and our whole atmospheric cycle.”
Nathan Conroy, a graduate student who works with H2OScore, said that while the website is the smallest it has ever been in the terms of staff size, it has never been more effective.
“When we say growth, we are talking about knowledge,” Conroy said. “H2Oscore has more attraction now than it ever has. We are collaborating with a bunch of different cities in Wisconsin, and we have knowledge about how this idea, this business can be scaled so that it can lead to significant water savings in these communities.”
Conroy said the website’s logo, a series of ripples, represents the continuation of the reach of H2OScore.
“We’re super proud of being from Milwaukee, and that is something that helps us build our image,” Conroy said. “This is where the first drop landed, and we watched it ripple out from there.”