New Austin Water mobile app tracks usage

DropCounterA new mobile phone application called Dropcountr could soon help Austin Water Utility customers track and manage their water intake, potentially resulting in less usage and more money saved.

Randomly selected Austin Water customers will receive an email this week with instructions for joining the pilot program. Austin Water invested in the Dropcountr program following a recommendation from the Water Resources Planning Task Force, which in its 2014 report called for investing in customer water report software.

According to the task force recommendation, a similar program used in California resulted in a 5 percent reduction in total water demand in six months.

"This will be an exciting opportunity to expand our conservation efforts," Austin Water Utility Director Greg Meszaros said in an April 15 city memo.

Through the Dropcountr mobile app—available for download on the Apple AppStore and Google Play, Austin Water can send instant notifications to customers, including alerts about abnormal water usage resulting from potential leaks. Customers can also compare their water intake with other users and receive alerts about drought restrictions, according to the Dropcountr website.

The random selection of participants helps the city track behavioral changes that result from using Dropcountr, according to an April 21 city news release. Austin Water will also send out paper reports by mail to a separate group of random participants unless they choose to opt out.

Should there be enough room for additional participants, the mobile app will be made available for general download and use, according to the city-owned water utility.

Water utility customers can email watercon@austintexas.gov with any questions.
By Joe Lanane
Joe Lanane’s career is rooted in community journalism, having worked for a variety of Midwest-area publications before landing south of the Mason-Dixon line in 2011 as the Stillwater News-Press news editor. He arrived at Community Impact Newspaper in 2012, gaining experience as editor of the company’s second-oldest publication in Leander/Cedar Park. He eventually became Central Austin editor, covering City Hall and the urban core of the city. Lanane leveraged that experience to become Austin managing editor in 2016. He managed eight Central Texas editions from Georgetown to San Marcos. Working from company headquarters, Lanane also became heavily involved in enacting corporate-wide editorial improvements. In 2017, Lanane was promoted to executive editor, overseeing editorial operations throughout the company. The Illinois native received his bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University and his journalism master’s degree from Ball State University.


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