H2Oscore Pushes Water Conservation Via Software, Utilities, and Beer

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the Wisconsin cities of Grafton, Menomonie, Milwaukee, Waukesha, and Whitewater.

Dean Amhaus, president and CEO of The Water Council, thinks southeastern Wisconsin is an ideal location for H2Oscore to prove itself. On one hand, there is Milwaukee, a major metro area with an abundant source of fresh water in Lake Michigan—and, therefore, a bigger challenge in selling residents on the need to buckle down on water conservation. And one county west, there is Waukesha, which has clean-water supply problems and is seeking approval to divert water from nearby sources.

“I think being able to perfect [H2Oscore’s] system and their message and their marketing and brand, demonstrate that it actually works in areas where we’re not water poor, then you can really take it across the country and across the world,” Amhaus said. “If you can make it happen and work in the Milwaukee area, you’ll be able to do it elsewhere.”

McGeeYoung

McGee Young

That’s at the top of Young’s agenda in 2014. He has an ambitious goal of expanding H2Oscore’s software to 40 cities this year in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. He’s even had a phone conversation with officials in Ireland, he said.

It won’t be easy. H2Oscore has at least one major competitor, San Francisco-based WaterSmart Software, which has contracts with utilities in California, Colorado, and Texas, and a big head start in funding. WaterSmart has raised $6.9 million in three funding rounds, Bloomberg reported.

H2Oscore is getting a boost from MillerCoors, the Chicago-based joint venture with eight breweries around the country, including Milwaukee. Young has bounced ideas for H2Oscore off of Kim Marotta, director of sustainability at MillerCoors, since his startup’s early days, he said.

Now MillerCoors is taking a more active role by opening doors for H2Oscore in areas around the country where the brewer has a presence, facilitating and encouraging conversations between the startup and local utilities. Thus far, MillerCoors has connected H2Oscore to potential partners near its breweries in Irwindale, CA, and Fort Worth, TX.

MillerCoors says it has worked to reduce water use throughout its brewing process, and support of companies like H2Oscore is a way to extend its sustainability efforts beyond its breweries. What’s more, MillerCoors officials see promise in H2Oscore’s concept and initial results, said Marco Ugarte, the brewer’s sustainability manager for energy and water stewardship projects.

“This is really an opportunity—sometimes unchartered territory for companies like us—to better engage a community, to better understand our shared challenges,” Ugarte said. “We want to provide momentum to an innovative idea that can have a positive impact in the communities.”

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