College Entrepreneurs Develop Shower Meter to Reduce Water Consumption
Of the hundreds of people the team at Sprav Water LLC asked, the majority had no clue how much water they used during showers.
"More than you probably want to know," one person responded in a company video.
The average U.S. household uses 300 gallons of water per day, and only laundry washing and toilet flushing consumes more water than showers, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Cleveland, OH-area college students of Sprav developed a method to decrease water consumption in the shower with a wireless smart water meter birthed from an extra credit project.
“We all sat down and thought back to the days when we were kids getting yelled at for taking too long in the shower and realized that this was a market with little innovation and great opportunity for growth,” Sprav CEO Craig Lewis said.
People can easily monitor their hot water usage by the color indicator on the smart water meter. The meter's light works the same as the country's traffic signal system, with a red light indicating that you've been in the shower too long. The light only serves as a warning, though. It's up to the user to turn off the water.
The company—led by Lewis, a senior at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), classmate CJ Valle and recent Cleveland Art Institute graduate Andrew Schad—estimates that homeowners could save between 10 and 20 percent on water costs each year.
Sprav has also developed a smartphone app to compliment the water meter. People can view real-time usage data, as well as periodic reports and savings over time.
The trio at Sprav turned its 2011 extra credit product at CWRU into an award-winning, redesigned project in a competition sponsored by Saint-Gobain. The business later earned "seed" funding from Bizdom, a startup accelerator for businesses in Cleveland and Detroit.
The first smart water meters will be shipped in April 2014 and eventually for sale on the company's website.
At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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