It turns out that monitors at the city water department had spotted the leak on that Wednesday, long before we did. Late Friday, after we had already turned off the water, the mail carrier delivered a letter from Rita Di Candia, the city's water resources manager. She explained the "City's Advanced Metering Infrastructure," then added:
"After careful review of the hourly meter reads from the water meter located on your property ... there is a constant flow through this meter ... estimated to be an estimated loss of 60 gallons of water per hour."
Thanks Ms. Di Candia and the city water department for the letter, but that took three days to reach us. A phone call would have been better -- or even a stop-by from someone on the water crew. That could have helped us stop the "constant flow" immediately, sparing us a huge water bill this quarter and saving 60-gallons-an-hour of wasting a vital resource.
I don't know if others in town are experiencing pipeline breaks or receiving these kinds of mailed notices about possible leaks. A plumber and a leak detector we hired to begin the work of finding our leak said these types of underground leaks occur throughout Pleasanton and more so in Dublin where PVC pipes and fittings are now common.
But they're not uncommon either at a 31-year-old home like ours due to settling ground or far-reaching tree roots.
As Ms. Di Candia wrote, among the many benefits of Pleasanton's recent $7 million project to replace water meters in the city, including mine, is that the so-called "smart" meters now allow us to see daily, even hourly, readings of our water usage.
By registering online, we can find out how much water we're using for those morning showers or to sprinkle the lawn or even to wash several loads of clothes.
Most importantly, these smart meters also can alert us to a leak, which may not be visible from a faulty faucet or irrigation system. If it's like mine, from a buried pipe, it can take days before wet spots show a problem, long after a significant water loss has already occurred.
Of course, Murphy's Law dictates that whatever can go wrong will go wrong late on a Friday afternoon. By the time I received the letter, the city water department had closed for the weekend. Most plumbing contractors weren't available until that Monday.
So, I grabbed my water shut-off curb key (about $9 at a local hardware store) and stopped the loss and cost of leaking water. We went without running water until Monday afternoon. Try that for a leisurely weekend!
Kathleen Yurchak, the city's director of operations, said the city's new automated metering system is new. "Monitoring 22,000 meters is quite an undertaking and a demand on staffing resources," she explained.
Customers can manage their water consumption and set notifications using readings through a new "Customer Portal" that can be accessed from a desktop or mobile device. To sign up, visit www.pleasantonwater.com. I've now done that and urge everyone else to do the same.
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