Do water meters impact water usage?

6:17 PM, Jan 13, 2014   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO - As the Sacramento City Council prepares to take up a mandatory 20 percent water cut across the city, many are turning to their water meters to see where their water is really going.

In 2005, the city began one of its biggest capital improvement projects ever. It started installing more than 110,000 water meters by 2025 to get customers on a metered rate. So far, the city has installed 53,000 - about 42 percent of the goal.

More information on the city of Sacramento water meter installation program

Installation is taking place in neighborhoods like east Sacramento.

"I think it's a good thing in general," resident Dave Labhard said. "So we can get a grip on what we're doing with our water usage."

Labhard has lived in his home for 30 years. With all of concerns about water these days, he thinks it's about time a water meter was installed.

"The same way we do with our energy costs," Labhard said. "It gives us a good guideline about usage."

Because of the city's aging infrastructure, the project is a lot of work. It requires tearing out the old main, putting in a new one, and installing the actual meter. The project costs $400 million.

Residents have mixed feelings about the meters. Some complain their bills have gone up.

But Jessica Hess with the city said it should be the same overall.

"If you're using an average amount of water," Hess said, you should anticipate paying the same as the flat rate annually."

Hess said it's hard to prove whether meters are making people save water, but it does make them more aware. She said the meters have technology in place that monitors real time usage. For example, if water is being used at a time when it shouldn't, such as a leak, the utility will be alerted to that.

Craig Richardson agreed about being more cognizant of his water use. A water meter was installed in his Pocket neighborhood home about two years ago.

"I think it makes you pay more attention to usage and be a little more conservative," Richardson explained. "I don't know if it's working as a whole or not."

But with potential 20 percent cuts on the horizon, Richardson says he'll be paying a lot more attention to his next bill.

"We never know how long it's going to last," he said, adding, "It's not looking good for rain in the near future here."



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