LINCOLN — Lincoln Mayor Lew Watson said the city is almost finished with a multi-year project to replace its water meters with ones that allow people to check their own water consumption.
“We are almost 99 percent completed,” the mayor said Tuesday.
Watson said the new meters are a great improvement both for the city’s water department and water customers because of its ability to make getting information on water usage easier.
“We have switched from a meter that either has to be read or is what is called a drive by meter,” he said.
He said these older meters required employees to get out and drive through neighborhoods each month to check each individual meter or get a reading from it on a computer while driving by. Watson said the new meter allows employees to read meters from the office, simplifying the process.
“In other words, nobody goes out; it's all read electronically from the office,” he said.
He said the system also allows residents to look at their own water usage electronically through a smartphone app called Eye On Water.
“They only need their account number and they write their own password,” Watons said, while opening up the app on his own phone.
Watson said the app has an alert system that notifies a person and the water department if it detects a water leak. He showed that it also tracks how much water is used week by week, day by day and even hour by hour, using his own home as an example. The mayor said that the app doesn’t keep track of this data in real time, but instead updates once a day with the previous days information
“The system is designed to only ask the meter for information once a day,” he said.
He said even if the system doesn’t flag a leak, having information on water usage allows customers and the water department to look at strange usage that could be a leak or just a toilet running longer than it should be.
“Traditionally, we’ve always called somebody when we found at the end of the month, 'Oh you've used a lot of water.' We call them and tell them you’ve got a leak,’” Watson said. “Now, the customer knows in advance.”
He said this will help customers avoid $600 or $800 water bills because they had a leak that they did not know about.