The Village of Old Westbury’s Water Department recently launched a pilot program in which “smart” water meters were installed on 25 residential properties to determine how much water has been used by each household and to help identify any leaks that may be occurring on the property.
What makes these meters “smart” is that they can measure water usage down to the minute and make the results available to village residents via an app they can download to view the results.
“By having these meters installed, homeowners can learn how to conserve water and save money on their water bills,” said Tom O’Connor, water superintendent for the Village of Old Westbury.
Village mayor Fred Carillo noted that the program has already been successful in helping users identify when there are leaks. O’Connor recalled that a meter installed at one home measured a usage rate of 837 gallons of water an hour.
“What happened was, the resident had been away for several days,” he said. “During that time, the pool’s auto-fill had malfunctioned and that caused the pool to overflow. That’s almost 14 gallons a minute.”
Most of the water consumption comes from the residents watering their lawns, which becomes more frequent when the weather becomes hotter and the sun stays out longer. But if there is a leak in the irrigation system, it could lead to higher water bills without the homeowner’s knowledge. One village homeowner was reported to have used 307 gallons an hour.
“We found an irrigation leak in the back of the property that they otherwise would have never known about,” O’Connor said.
In addition to providing residents information about their water usage, it also makes it easier for village personnel to get readings.
“This system provides accurate water meter readings in lieu of personnel transposing the readings manually and also saves labor costs of personnel not having to visit each water meter pit two times annually to retrieve the information,” Carillo said.
O’Connor said the feedback from the program has been positive so far. He foresees the program expanding throughout the village so that all 1,300 water connections will have the “smart” meter system installed.
“The system will not only help residents preserve precious resources and put less strain on the water system, but also lower their water bills,” he said.
Carillo added that the village is currently getting prices on the meters and looking for funding sources, as to install the meters on all 1,300 meters in the village as of now would currently cost more than $1 million.
“It’s pretty expensive. We do expect to expand so we’re seeing how we can get money to do this,” Carillo said. “I think it’s a great program and I think the residents would enjoy it. It gives residents an idea of their irrigation costs.”