By Linda Dillman
Water meters may not be glamorous, but replacement of old meters with new technology throughout Canal Winchester has an unexpected benefit for utility customers—the possibility of detecting a leak long before it translates into an unexpected bill.
City Water Superintendent Joe Taylor said the city started the five-year-long process in early 2017 of switching 3,300 old meters out and replacing them with new automated radio meters.
He said the city-wide endeavor is nearly halfway complete and is expected to finish up in late 2020 or early 2021.
“The project cost was around $400,000 and was spread over four to five years,” said Taylor. “There was no additional cost to the property owners and there was no rate increase this year.”
In addition to making data collection for billing easier and faster, Taylor said the new service alerts the water department when a property owner engages in water usage for 24 hours straight. It affords the department the opportunity to contact a resident within a few business days and notify them of the detection of a potential leak.
“Once we have determined they may have a leak, we contact the resident or leave them a door tag,” said Taylor. “It’s important that residents make sure that our offices have the correct contact numbers.”
According to Taylor, his department receives emails regarding leak notifications a couple of times a week.
While a large, undetected leak under the new metering system could still result in a bill in the hundreds of dollars, with the previous system it could have cost a property owner thousands of dollars.
“We caught a leak that was 68,000 gallons over a weekend and the bill was around $850,” said Taylor. “It was a busted line in vacant home. If the leak would have occurred with the old metering system, the leak would have been around 480,000 gallons and cost around $5,700 since it wouldn’t have been detected for another 28 days.”
Taylor said under the old meter system, it might be as long as 60 days before the water department would notice larger than normal consumption. Now, they are able to pick up increased consumption within a one-to-five day window.
Even though the system identifies large leaks, it can detect much smaller ones as well. Councilman Mike Walker was notified of a potential problem that could have added $10 to $20 to his water bill.
“Not only was there a trickle from the toilet, but we found a trickle from the garden hose as well,” said Walker, who received a call from Taylor alerting him to a possible leak. “I really appreciate the phone call and it showed me that the system works. I went right out, fixed the toilet and tightened up the hose connection.”
While leaks can be detected with the new metering system, residents are still urged to pay attention to potential problems such as a leaky faucet or running toilet.
“A commode can leak a few gallons per minute and there are 1,440 minutes per day,” said Taylor. “Contact the water department at 614-837-5623 for questions on leak detection.”