When Thom Clark arrived as the Public Services Director for the city of Oakdale in 2013, the water system was in dire need of attention. Oakdale’s groundwater infrastructure was aging, and drilling a new well meant a substantial financial outlay and a lengthy wait for the right equipment and construction crews. Thom and his team ensured that necessary construction would occur, but also promised the city council that this would be the last needed infrastructure project for the next 40 years. Thom planned to tackle future water challenges by investing in improved efficiency, not increased production.
A Balanced Solution
n the Central Valley, Thom reports, “People want a big yard with green grass.” Few people realize, however, that during the summer the Valley receives less precipitation than the Mojave Desert. Thom saw gains in water-use efficiency as a way to bring water usage more in line with available supply. Water-use efficiency is becoming recognized as an important tool to avoid future infrastructure expenses. “Conservation is ‘the new black’ and it’s not going away,” he declares.
Oakdale began to look into ways to turn dreams of a sustainable water balance into reality.Thom recognized that achieving true balance between supply and demand would require changing the mindset of the community and policymakers in his area. He noted WaterSmart Software’s proven model of social comparison and behavioral change and decided to forma partnership.