Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - 10:44am
More than 200 residential customers have been alerted to major water leaks thanks to Madison Water Utility's Project H2O. The advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) system has been installed in 53,450 homes, apartments and businesses across Madison. It allows the Water Utility to receive real-time usage data, helping us spot "continuous usage" - a sign that there is likely a leak or plumbing problem causing wasted water.
"It was a steam room in the whole place," describes property owner Brende Hofer, who entered one of her rental units after getting an urgent letter from Madison Water Utility.
The letter alerted her to 100-150 gallons of continuous water usage per hour at the apartment - even during overnight hours. It turns out the man renting the apartment was out of town on business, and the shower head had been spewing hot water for days.
"Something inside the faucet wore out and gave loose," she says. "Hot water was pumping 24-7."
Hofer called a plumber to fix the problem and is thankful there was no real damage.
"This could have been a disaster," she says. "It was discovered in enough time that we didn't have paint peeling off the walls or crumbled drywall."
Leaks don't have to be as dramatic as the one Hofer discovered to waste large amounts of water. Even a leaky toilet can add hundreds of dollars to a customer's water and sewer bill.
Before Project H20, most water leaks weren't discovered until customers opened a surprisingly high municipal services bill several months down the road. With the transition to real-time water usage data, water leaks inside the home are being caught much earlier.
In 2011, some 76 million gallons of water were lost to consumer leaks. As Project H2O installations wrap up in Madison in the coming months, the new technology will allow us to spot even more leaks, helping us conserve one of Madison's most precious resources.
"When you have a leak, it's literally water down the drain," says Hofer.
- Amy Barrilleaux, Water Utility PIO(608) 266-9129