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Charlotte teen wins U.S. award for an idea for a water conservation app

A south Charlotte teen has won a national award for his concept of using a smartphone app to promote water conservation.

Rishi Mantri
Provided by Rishi Mantri
Rishi Mantri

Rishi Mantri is a 16-year-old junior at Ardrey Kell High School. In March, he entered a monthly technology competition against students across North America. The goIT Monthly Challenge is sponsored by India's Tata Consultancy Services. The theme was water sustainability, one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

"The idea was to create an app that would incentivize water conservation in households and communities," Mantri said. "And essentially, it will calculate the percentage change in their usage. And gradually, it will allocate 'aqua points' for decreases in use."

Those points could then be traded for rewards like coupons and discounts from local businesses.

For now, Mantri expects that users would enter their own information about water usage into the app. But he said he would like to partner with a local water system and other businesses to develop the idea.

Mantri said his proposed app, called Aqua Conscious, was inspired by his experience living 12 years in Mumbai, India, where water is a major concern.

"The concept of water conservation and the problems that are arising from this are pretty much on the forefront and are in the minds of people (in Mumbai)," Mantri said. "And when I moved over here (to Charlotte), I realized that because of the abundance that we have over here, it's not necessarily on the forefront in the minds of people."

His app won the monthly competition in March. Then in November, it was chosen as the 2021 national winner from among six finalists and 2,600 total entries.

Other finalists were from Toronto and Wilmington, Delaware, and included apps to help people recover from heart attacks, provide healthy food, and track your daily activities.

Mantri's prize is three months of help from Tata consultants to build and market the app.

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David Boraks previously covered climate change and the environment for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.