State Joins Drought-Shaming Community Call to Action with SaveWater Portal

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Californians seeking to shame water wasters by making others aware of their misdeeds no longer have to indirectly strike a blow for conservation on the Internet, they can complain directly, and graphically, to the authorities.

The State Water Resources Control Board launched its new SaveWater portal last week that lets people identify their scofflaw neighbors from a dropdown menu listing nine types of water waste, fill in the date and time of the transgression, attach a photo and a report and blast it off anonymously from their smartphones, tablets and computers.

“The beauty of this system is that it sends reports directly to the water suppliers,” Board Chair Felicia Marcus said in a release announcing SaveWater. It will compliment the methods that local water agencies are already using, including apps, to compile unverified allegations.

Americans have been trained for a more than a decade to report any suspicious goings on of their fellow citizens in the cause of thwarting terrorism. An increasingly fearful public has found some solace in their technologically enhanced ability to pre-empt bad things from happening or help track down the perps afterward.

Now, Californians can direct their anxiety and anger over water shortages against their neighbors with the push of a button, while pondering, in passing, the policies and protagonists that are perhaps more relevant. Someone is to blame for the 25% water cutback we must endure; why not take it out on the douchebag across the street whose sprinklers are dampening the sidewalk on the wrong day of the week.

Water shamers can download an app to facilitate reporting misdeeds at the state Department of Technology’s mobile gallery. That’s far easier than doing something about the 80% of water consumed by large-scale corporate agriculture, primarily for export, or the oil drillers who are polluting aquifers.

The state’s website announcing the debut of the SaveWater portal doesn’t not mention what the state will do with the unverified information sent to them. Social media sites, using hashtags like #droughtshaming and #watershaming, are having a field day fingerpointing and outing folks, including waiters in restaurants who bring water without being asked.

People are only now starting to debate whether ratting out waiters and neighbors is effective at reducing water waste and whether it justifies encouragement of vindictive behavior.

“It empowers ordinary citizens to participate in the well-being of their community by using their smartphones,” VizSafe CEO and founder Peter Mottur told CNBC about his company’s shaming app. One of its many catchphrases is: “Easily and anonymously report issues from petty to serious,” because, seriously, there is not enough pettiness in the world.

Users of the app can receive real-time alerts to evil-doers in the neighborhood, and presumably round up like-minded water vigilantes to confront the perps. “The goal is to turn this content into actionable content,” Mottur said.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Drought-Shaming Your Neighbor: There's an App for That (by Jane Wells, CNBC)

Named and Shamed: Californians Blast Each Other for Water-Wasting on Social Media as Drought-Ridden State's Battle over Scarce Resources Turns Nasty (by Myriah Towner, London Daily Mail)

SaveWater.CA.Gov Launched to Help Communities Identify Water Waste (State Water Resources Control Board)

Leave a comment