Project H2O saving Madison customers hundreds of dollars

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Though only 20 percent complete, Project H2O, Madison (Wis.) Water Utility’s initiative to upgrade outdated water meters and transition to monthly billing, has already identified significant savings for several of the utility’s customers. Historically, most water leaks weren’t discovered until customers received a high municipal services bill several months down the road. With the transition to real-time water usage data, water leaks inside the home are being caught much earlier with the cost savings passed on to the customer.

For one MWU customer, the system indicated continuous water usage between 15 and 20 gallons of water per hour over several days. The utility alerted the customer, who later identified a leaky toilet as the culprit. If the leak had continued undetected, an estimated $440 in additional water and sewer charges would have shown up on the customer’s bill.

Project H2O’s advanced metering system collects and transmits hourly water consumption data, in an encrypted format, over a wireless network system. Water usage data is monitored by a data management system and reviewed by the utility’s customer service staff to look for periods of continuous water use over a multi-day span. Continuous water usage over multiple 24-hour periods indicates a potential leak may be occurring within the home. 

In 2011, Madison Water Utility identified 652 customer leaks totaling $116,332 and representing 76 million gallons of water pumped from the local aquifer. The additional amount of water pumped due to these leaks was equal to roughly 2.5 days of the utility’s total system pumpage. 

In the next few months, utility customers who have had their meter upgraded as part of the project will be able to access and view personal water use data online through the MyWater feature on the utility’s website. Graphical data will allow customers to monitor personal water consumption patterns with the potential to identify and repair water leaks quickly. Access to the data will be available on a secure website and restricted to customer specific information only. 

For more information about Project H2O, visit www.madisonwater.org.



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