In February, California American Water (CAW) launched a web-based pilot program aimed at conserving water and energy while helping customers avoid unnecessarily high water bills. The online application will monitor water use through a meter fitted with a radio transmitter that collects water use data. The data will be sent to a web portal, U2You, where customers can monitor their daily water consumption using a computer or smartphone.
“Nobody likes the shock of a high water bill due to a toilet or irrigation leak that they don’t know about until the bill arrives,” noted CAW President Rob MacLean in a press release. “And by the time the leak is discovered, thousands of gallons of water can be wasted as well as all the energy required to pump that water. By providing customers a detailed picture of their daily water usage, we hope to reveal opportunities for water savings.”
Most excessive water use is traced to leaky toilets or irrigation systems rather than faulty meters or computer errors. To catch leaks early, participants in CAW’s pilot will be able to identify abnormally high water consumption and compare their water use to the average water usage in their area. The U2You website also allows participants to set up alerts that will notify them by email or text messages if a leak is detected or their water use exceeds a specified amount. As a result, they will be able to avoid water waste while saving money on their bills.
Approximately 200 Monterey Peninsula business and residential customers were recruited to voluntarily participate in the pilot program, which will run for about one year. After the equipment is installed, tests will be conducted to ensure the data is transmitted and communicated accurately to the new website, which is expected to be launched in two to three months. CAW’s goal is to collect enough data to assess the application’s feasibility and costs and identify those features customers find most useful. If successful, the program may be rolled out to all CAW customers, pending the approval of the California Public Utilities Commission.
Ensuring customers’ access to reliable, high-quality drinking water on demand is a top priority for CAW. Providing customers with the tools and information they need to use water wisely and responsibly is another priority. If the U2You technology is successful, CAW will better meet its customers’ needs while working as a community to save water and avoid stricter mandatory conservation regulations. For more information on CAW’s conservation programs, visit www.montereywaterinfo.org.