Tackling at home leaks can be a challenge, but small drops can add up to big dollars on your bill, so we’ve provided some quick tips and tricks to help you save water and money:
Identify your main shut of valve to your home in case of emergency. They are usually located where your water service line enters your home and are often found in the garage or crawlspace.
Replace toilet flappers every few years, make sure they are the correct size, and do a dye test if you suspect a silent leak.
Clean and replace gaskets and aerators in faucets and showerheads.
Check for spots in the yard that are always wet in case of an irrigation leak.
Water service providers participate in the EPA’s Fix a Leak Week each March to support conservation and increase customer knowledge of at home plumbing! You can visit their webpages for more tips and tricks and even an at-home scavenger hunt you can do with the whole family.
In the latest move to modernize Charlotte’s infrastructure, Charlotte Water will be updating your water meters with a newer, advanced water meter reading system. This project will take about seven years to completely roll out to all Charlotte residents accordingly to current projections.
“Charlotte Water isn’t changing how we measure water, just how we are reading your meter. We are focusing on providing a better service to our customers and making our operations more efficient,” the project manager for the new advanced water meter project, Jeffrey Jones, wants you to know.
Currently, residents get monthly updates with their water bill about their water usage. The new transmitter on the water meter will send updates to the cloud every 15 minutes. Residents will be able to see these updates online.
With these updates, residents can spot leaks and adjust usage accordingly. You won’t have to wait until you get your water bill to find out that a toilet upstairs has been running all month. Or that your child is taking hour-long showers. The new updates won’t allow residents to see where the extra water usage is coming from, just when it is. It will be up to residents to determine the source of their higher bills but the extra data will help people to identify problems earlier.
This data will also allow Charlotte Water to anticipate and identify leaks and issues on our end, giving us needed information to better serve customers. We can reallocate resources away from driving meter routes and instead focus on meeting the needs of our customers.
Track your water usage
You will see a read-out like the ones below. The first graph shows an apartment complex’s usage when there is a leak. The second graph shows the same apartment complex’s usage after the leak was fixed. As you can see in the second graph, water usage drops off in the middle of the night when most people are asleep. When water usage is still high during these periods, that indicates a leak. You will have access to graphs like this for your own home.
Currently, these advanced water meters are only used for a few commercial clients. Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, Bank of America Stadium, Frito-Lay, Lance, and SouthPark Mall all use the new advanced water meters. Pilots are planned for residential customers, also.
Advanced Meter Infrastructure allows Charlotte Water to create a better experience for Charlotte Water customers. Having greater access to consolidated data allows Charlotte Water to better prepare for droughts, usage surges, changes in water pressure and temperature, etc. It also will help us to spot leaks in the infrastructure more quickly and expedite repairs.
One project of many to update our infrastructure
This is only the latest step in modernizing our water infrastructure. Before more recent technology was released, Charlotte Water employees had to manually read each water meter. In 2003, the city started a project to replace the water meters with more modern water meters that allow a car to drive by and pick up the readings using radio signals. This saved the city lots of time and money.
However, this isn’t a perfect system. For the signal to be picked up, the car must be close to the meter. Every month, 1800 meters are missed in this process. This means that employees manually read those meters. These meters are missed due to equipment malfunction (like batteries dying) or damage.
As our population continues to grow, those missed readings cause increased burdens on the city’s resources. Also, those transmitters are starting to wear so it is time for many of them to be replaced in the next 5+ years. With this modern technology, Charlotte Water will be able to see digitized readings of usage, and the older water meter reading route will end. This will save the city time and resources that could be better utilized elsewhere.
Residential pilot in Davidson
In the coming months, Charlotte Water is piloting these water meters in the new Davidson Point neighborhood. This location was chosen because the surrounding water meter routes were full due to the growth in the area. Rather than completely redoing the water meter routes, they were a practical choice for a pilot.
This is all part of phase one of a three-phase launch of these advanced water meters throughout the city. Also, during phase one, we will be working with consultants who launch similar installations around the world to determine changing business needs and communications. This will help us prepare to answer the public’s questions and communicate well about expectations.
During phase two, Charlotte Water will be installing these meters in 10,000 buildings. They will be selecting 1-2 areas of the city that include a mix of different customers: single-family homes, apartments, and commercial. This beta release will allow Charlotte Water to start training its employees on the new equipment. After the beta release, they will take a break for a year to evaluate what worked, what didn’t, and what changes need to be made to replace the rest of the meters.
Phase three is the big launch. Charlotte Water will be replacing all water meters that are over five years old throughout the city. Meters that are less than five years old can be reprogrammed to work with the new system. This requires replacing 270,000 of 310,000 meters in the Charlotte metro area. This will take about five years to complete with 300 meters being replaced per day. All the transmitters will be replaced to work with the new system.
More information will be released with each phase. Keep an eye on the city website for more information as the project continues. This is one of several projects that the city is working on to update our infrastructure and support our continued growth. Charlotte continues to prove itself as an up-and-coming city that continues to grow as people see our incredible city.
We’re grateful for our Charlotte Water employees who work 24/7/365 so that the rest of us can enjoy the holiday.
As you sit down for your Thanksgiving meal and you are pondering a unique thing to be thankful for, you can be grateful for running water and safely managed sanitation. According to the WHO and UNICEF’s Progress on Household Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Report, only 74% of the world’s population has safe drinking water. That means more than two billion people are without consistent access to clean drinking water.
Additionally, only 54% of the world’s population has access to safely regulated sanitation services. We are incredibly fortunate to have safe, high-quality water and well-maintained wastewater systems.
Charlotte Water is one of the largest water and sanitation service utilities in the Southeast with over 1,050 employees to support the more than one million residents. To keep over 9,000 miles of water and wastewater pipes, three water treatment plants, seven wastewater treatment plants, and several water storage, water towers, and facilities all maintained and running 24/7/365, many Charlotte Water employees must work on and through holidays or stay on-call in case of emergencies.
Leaks and backups happen on holidays, too!
Crystal Josey works as a dispatcher for Charlotte Water. She shares her experience working over holidays:
“My job during the holiday is no different than it is during normal working hours. Water leaks still happen and sewer backups still occur. These incidents happen any time of any day. My job is to take the correct information from the reporting person and send the correct crew to investigate and/or make necessary repairs. A crew must be paged in from home, get everyone together, and get to the truck and the work site.”
Barbara Armstrong is a Sr. Water Service Technician. She is first on-site for leaks and breaks. She describes her role:
“Water service leaks are unpredictable, and they could happen at any given time including during the holidays. I can repair some water service leaks in an average timeframe of approximately, 10-30 minutes. However emergency main breaks or emergency water service leaks can typically take 2 to 4 hours to complete, and they are completed by a Field Operations Construction Crew. For the most part, we don’t want to interrupt the customers’ holiday, and we only make emergency repairs on the holidays.”
Don’t wash grease down the pipes
When families making meals wash grease down the sink, the risk of pipes backing up or clogging increases. As the weather gets colder, the grease hardens into solid masses that cause problems.
“Sewer complaints are always handled as an emergency and we seem to receive more sewer calls over the holidays for various reasons. A lot of cooking and grease/food down the drain is not a good thing,” Josey comments.
Keep this in mind as you prepare your holiday meals! When grease hardens in pipes, it can cause messy, smelly back-ups. These back-ups can cause sewer overflows or even come back into your house. So, wipe your pans out with paper towels, throw them away, and our pipes will continue to flow free.
Say “Hi!” if you see our trucks
Charlotteans wouldn’t be able to appreciate the holiday without dedicated Charlotte Water staff serving the community. Take a moment to thank those who are working diligently to manage these systems and those who are ready to jump in if there is an emergency while you’re celebrating. If you see Charlotte Water trucks in your neighborhood, wave and say hi! Armstrong shares:
“Working on the holiday is an added bonus for me because I enjoy serving the community, and it makes me feel proud when customers see me driving a Charlotte Water vehicle throughout their neighborhoods. Customers are very happy to see me arrive at their residence on a holiday. Most of them can’t believe that I am working on a holiday, and then they are very thankful for my service. I take pride in what I do, and I’m always there to help our customers. I try to put their worries at ease and let them know that Charlotte Water will take care of any issue that they may have as long as it’s not on the private side.”
Charlotte Water is smoking…it’s not what you think though. On occasion we conduct smoke testing to detect failures and leaks within the wastewater collection system (sewer pipes) that allow rainwater, creek water and other storm water run-off to enter the system.Smoke testing is a technique where smoke is blown into the sewer system, and the smoke escapes through leaks in the sewers.
We will always let you know ahead of time if we are conducting this type of testing in your ‘hood with a door hanger.
We instruct those that will have smoke testing occur in their neighborhood to ensure that all wastewater pipes have been filled with water recently and that all toilets are filled with water.
Some things to know about smoke testing:
Smoke should not enter your home or business unless you have defective plumbing or dry drain traps. Running water will block smoke from entering your home at these locations.
Crews will not need to enter into your home or business.
You can expect to see smoke escape through vent stacks on the roof of your building – this is a sign that the building’s plumbing is properly installed.
The smoke is white to gray in color, nearly odorless, and is non-toxic and non-staining. The smoke will not leave residue or create a fire hazard. The smoke IS NOT harmful to people or pets.
So the next time you see one of our staff or contractors with a smoke machine, remember we aren’t sending smoke signals, just making sure that any leaks are identified and fixed ASAP.