Bringing Data Management to Water Conservation

2019 - ongoing
Palo Verde Irrigation District
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

Think about California for a moment. What comes to mind? Beaches. Surfing. Hollywood. Disneyland. Okay, those may be an outsider’s stereotypical view. Surely we can agree this massive state is filled with people, covered in sunshine, rich in resources, and has, well, everything.  

Everything—except water 

Even with the Pacific Ocean gushing in and out of California’s coastline every day, the state, plagued with severe droughts, faces a serious problem: water shortage. With an economy that heavily relies on water, the state’s water districts know they must increase their conservation efforts.  

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) must balance its water supply between many competing demands. The Palo Verde Irrigation District needs water to grow crops, which feed the 19 million people who also need it to drink and use in their homes. How does MWD balance its supply?  

Their researchers collect and analyze data to assess the amount of water that leaves the soil—through the atmosphere or plants—and how much water crops require. But crunching numbers in spreadsheets and reports often leaves information indecipherable, which slows down decision-making. MWD needed a cleaner way for people to analyze, summarize, and digest their water data.  

​​​​​​​“You can write reports or spreadsheets all you want, but it doesn’t mean anything until you paint the picture,” says Paul Senne, one of RESPEC’s Spatial Analysis & Application Development Experts.  

RESPEC stepped in to provide the canvas. Our GIS team has been designing and creating an app for MWD that gives folks a digital palette of Palo Verde’s water usage. With easy-to-read charts, graphs, and maps, the app will allow users to see crop data, evapotranspiration estimates, and water delivery data—all at their fingertips.   

Soon MWD, researchers, and farmers will be able to view, compare, or export water data. This access will make decisions easier for quarterly, monthly, weekly, or daily water distribution.   

“It all comes down to conservation,” says Paul. “How do we use the water wisely and decide where it goes?”  

RESPEC knows that accessible and easy-to-track information leads to greater environmental sustainability. While we may not be able to provide California with more water, we can give them the tools to inform their water usage and storage.