CEDAR HILL (CBSDFW.COM) – The city of Cedar Hill is making a $9 million investment in water conservation: while also cutting down on theft. The cost and ultimate savings come with the installation of new digital water meters.
This week, crews began installing the new digital water meters along Belt Line Road. They’ll transmit usage data directly to the city, so there will be no need for crews to drive and check the dials manually. Customers will also have easy access to their usage information.
In perennially drought-plagued Texas, water is a precious commodity. No one knows that better than homeowner Leah Jones. “When I received my bill, I noticed it was a little higher than normal,” she said. “When I received the second bill, I knew there was a problem.”
Jones said the amount due was double what she normally pays. The arrival of the second bill is also when she realized she had a water leak. The problem was in a seldom-used spare bathroom.
Jones said the bathroom had been leaking for a couple of months.
Now, in Cedar Hill, undetected leaks could soon be a problem of the past. The city is investing $9 million to upgrade all water meters to new digital systems.
“We will be able to notify you immediately that there’s a leak somewhere in your system… within 24 hours of an abnormal spike,” explained Melissa Stephens, the Assistant to the City Manager. “You’ll be able to catch it sooner. It saves citizens money and it saves the city money.”
Stephens says the leaks also cost the city, because customers with a water leak are usually given a break on their ‘sky high’ bills. But the bills still have to be paid and the city is the one coughing up the cash.
The citywide meter swap out has also uncovered another problem: water crooks. Stephens says this is another area where the city will save money.
“All cities have that issue [water theft], but with these meters, we will know immediately if a meter is turned on that was intended to be off, or if there’s water coming through a meter that’s off… we will know.”
Still, Stephens says the big payoff is in conservation and empowering customers.
Jones agrees that simply knowing about her leak would have made a big difference. “If I would have known right away, it would have avoided the water loss and probably the damage to my restroom.”
The new digital meters will transmit usage information every hour… and yes Mr. and Mrs. Customer… there’s an app for that! Consumers will be able to check water usage right on their smartphone and can also sign up to receive alerts. The digital meter installation is expected to wrap up in the spring.