By Cassie McClure and Suzanne Michaels
Published in the Las Cruces Sun-News 5/10/20
The Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) technology attached to your water meter now provides information about water usage to Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) that has never been available. One startling discovery is the number of homes – even new construction – experiencing water leaks that could be substantial.
Since monitoring started at the end of February 2020, LCU has reviewed AMI water meter data for six (6) billing cycles and to date has notified 369 customers that there could be a potential problem with their water usage. James Stafford, LCU management analyst, explains, “We’re in the initial phase of scouting customer-side leaks and have reviewed about 20% of the total LCU customer accounts. Even with this limited number of accounts, we’re looking at probable loss/leaks of 14,669,520 gallons/year. That’s enough water to fill 22.23 Olympic-sized swimming pools…and this is just the tip of the iceberg.”
By utilizing the hourly AMI data, LCU notifies those customers experiencing an ongoing 24-hours-a-day water flow of at least 5-gallons per hour, which would likely indicate a leak on their side of the water meter. Some residential accounts are showing a minimum flow of 70 to 80 gallons per hour, 24 hours a day. Some commercial accounts show a minimum continuous consumption of up to 220 gallons per hour, 24 hours a day.
“This type of monitoring helps LCU notify customers about leaks. If they will make repairs they can reduce their water bill and stop potential property damage, but it’s also a way of being a good steward to the environment,” said Jorge A. Garcia, Ph.D, P.E., LCU director.
“We want to make sure that in our desert environment we are not wasting water, and we’re extending the life of our underground aquifer,” said Stafford. “Plus, we can help reduce costs to those who may not realize that their bill is higher due to perhaps an underground leak that is seeping into the soil and not visible above ground.”
Stafford says so far, only about 53% of customers who have been notified are responding and getting leaks repaired. As LCU continues reviewing AMI water meter data, customers will continue to be notified if a leak is suspected. However, if you already suspect a leak, don’t wait! Call your local plumber now to locate and fix the leak.
You can reach LCU at 528-3500 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides GAS – WATER – WASTEWATER – SOLID WASTE services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.
PHOTO 1: Residential customer water connections that register a 5-gallon or more per hour continuous consumption are being notified by LCU of the possibility of a water leak that is wasting water and unnecessarily increasing the customer’s water bill.