The question is about the water losses on the customer’s side. How can the agency:
- Inspect the individual plumping fixtures in private homes?
- Replace or repair the private leaking fixtures
- Finance the repairs or replacements
- Enforce the program
That’s a really difficult issue. We do a lot of water loss training and working with utilities on doing water loss.
And the inside the home kind of issues are super super difficult because you get into all kinds of issues of liabilities, and private property and who pays for the fixtures and as you mentioned – say supposing it’s a leaking toilet, do you pay for a new toilet put in?
So usually, most utilities try to go more on an incentive route, or rebate route where maybe you come up with a program that if you have a leak in the house, and you show that you have replaced the toilet or replaced the sink through either pictures or receipts or however you want to do it, that you can get a rebate off the cost of your last month’s water bill.
So that maybe leaks, I don’t know, 3,000 gallons through your toilet and so we’re going to rebate you back the 3,000 gallons if you show them that you’ve put in a new toilet or rebates to install low-flow fixtures, shower heads, faucets, that sort of thing. It is really really difficult…
Ross: It’s just tough.
… to run an asset maintenance program inside somebody’s house. The one thing though that I would say from the non-revenue perspective is that you want to make sure that you have very accurate water meters.
Because if people are neglecting the leaking a lot, you want to at least have them pay for the water that’s leaking.
Because at the very least, they should have the revenue, the water utilities have the revenue from that, which is another price signal to people that if you want to bring that bill down, you can reduce your usage by fixing the leaks. So it’s another way to kind of incentivize people to do that part.
Yes, and if you’re on volumetric charging, of course, you could look at a step charging regime where you cover the average on your normal charging.
On some days you got a big leak and massively above average, they actually step up on to a higher rate, so give that’s the negative reinforcement. If the water’s too cheap, nothing you can do to make people change, can you?
And if it’s a huge problem in your utility like if there are tons of people for you to supply, it is actually one reason that the electronic read meters can be used because you can start to track the background leakage of each person’s home.
If you have those readings, nighttime reading, because it will give you some idea of, okay this background amount at night is probably the leakage of the home. And you can provide that information back to customers and indicate to them, it is costing you this much on your bill or you’re actually leaking 2,000 gallons.
So it is expensive to put those systems in place, those automatic meter reading systems. It is an expensive undertaking, so you don’t take it lightly. But it is something, if you really need a way to address inside the home, it is another tool that you can consider. Our utility, the one that I’m on has this automatic meter readings and they will send notices to customers that they believe have leaks.
And they will provide, they do incentives to have people repair things. So looking at incentives, looking at changing your rate structure to negatively impact customers who have the leaks, looking at automatic meter reading would be better ways to go than to try to figure out how to get your folks inside at home.
And this can be State and County or City ordinance specific as to whether you have rights to do that even. And I think as Heather says, it just gets quite problematic. If you go and fit something up in somebody’s house, and then that fails – all the liability and things like that.