SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Water Foundation (CWF), East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) and WaterSmart Software have announced the results of an independent study indicating that providing information that helps households compare their water use to neighborhood averages can reduce residential water use by five percent, according to a press release.

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This approach is called social norms based water efficiency technology or "behavioral water efficiency," noted the release.

"Californians want to use water responsibly, and most people believe they already do," said Lester Snow, executive director of the CWF, which helped fund EBMUD's WaterSmart Software pilot and this new independent analysis. "This research shows that people are motivated to conserve water when you let them know that their water use exceeds that of similar homes.  Water use reports like those used in this pilot program could prove an especially helpful tool for California water utilities, which face state requirements to reduce their per capita water use by 20 percent by 2020 and must think of new, creative ways to encourage consumers to conserve water."

The EBMUD pilot made use of a behavioral water efficiency approach to promoting water efficiency, reported the release, marking the first large-scale implementation of this technology by a large, urban water utility.

"With 2013 being one of the driest years on record in California and predictions of a similarly dry 2014, new behavioral water efficiency technologies like the one used in this pilot project represent an invaluable tool for water agencies in communicating with their customers about efficient water use practices," said Richard Harris, EBMUD manager of water conservation.