WaterSmart Seeks to Build Out Web-based Services to Conserve Water
[Corrected 6/8/11, 1:10 pm to show Peter Yolles is CEO, instead of Rob Steiner.] WaterSmart Software was founded two years ago in San Francisco, but co-founder Rob Steiner lives in San Diego. So when the cleantech software developer recently raised $900,000 in seed funding, I sat down with Steiner to discuss WaterSmart’s plans for developing software designed to help water districts and their customers conserve water.
Before starting the company, Steiner specialized in water deals as an investment consultant. Co-founder and CEO Peter Yolles, based in Marin, CA, was working as a water management consultant with water districts and other agencies. The two began to think about starting company focused on improving water use after they noticed a surge in cleantech startups focused on improving energy efficiencies, Steiner says.
Water has long been a critical resource throughout the semi-arid American West, and Steiner says the price of water is increasing about 1.5 times faster than the price of electricity.
(That doesn’t explain the whole story, however. Water economist David Zetland of Wageningen University in the Netherlands has argued that water pricing in California is drastically “underpriced” in ways that don’t reflect the scarcity and true cost of water production. Zetland also contends that water utility rates here tend to actually discourage conservation.)
In any event, U.S. residents use a tremendous amount of water every day—about 150 gallons a person, according to LeakBird, a San Francisco company that specializes in leak detection. In California, average daily water consumption varies widely. It is about 280 gallons per person in Sacramento and 97 gallons per person in the Bay Area. In San Diego, daily water use is currently at 143 gallons per capita (down from … Next Page »