Water utility customers in Cedar Park will now have near real-time updates on their water usage with a new online portal that launched on Monday.
“With this new system, we have the capability of bringing in hourly reading data for that resident,” said Nannette McCartan, the Utility Programs Manager for Cedar Park.
The web portal works with the city's 'smart meters' which the city finished deploying in June. It allows residents to monitor hourly water usage, detect leaks and continuous flow and set customized alerts. The portal also lets customers track daily, monthly and annual water usage and provides corresponding rainfall and temperature data.
Customers can access the data from computers, tablets or smart phones.
"It will allow people to do detective work on their usage and help them save water," Mayor Matt Powell said. "For people to proactively see that information, it is just wonderful."
“It will allow them to make decisions regarding their water usage, which will in the end help save them money," said McCartan.
According to McCartan, In 24 hours since the site launched on Monday, they’ve had 430 residents sign up.
“We’re just really excited to be able to offer the residents of the city of Cedar Park the ability to dive deeper into their water bill,” said McCartan.
In 2015 several residents were concerned with high water bills, and wanted more information regarding their water usage.
But at that time, they could only provide the one reading per month.
After investigating, she said the meters were working correctly.
“Upon researching that we determined that we actually didn’t have any billing errors at that time, and the meters were registering correctly,” said McCartan.
But, they wanted to go with a system that would help provide more information to residents.
Now, they can log in and see hourly data.
“With this system, you’ll be able to set alerts, not only be able to look at your hourly usage, but you’ll have the capability to set alerts,” said McCartan.
The alerts can tell you how many gallons you’ve used in a day, or notify you when you’ve reached a certain number of gallons in a billing cycle.
“It is the latest and greatest technology in water metering,” said McCartan. “It is a great resource that will allow them to make decisions save water and as a result save on their utility bill.”
Scott Smith has lived in Cedar Park for a little more than two years.
“Love it, it’s a great place to live,” said Smith.
He’s already logged on to the new system.
“Previously it’s always a surprise when you get your water bill and you never know how much you’re really using, and this really gives the ability to give alerts, where I can actually set a daily alert if it exceeds 2000 gallons to see if I have any leaks, or if my irrigation system is stuck, has been running all night,” said Smith. “It kind of predicts what my bill is going to be.”
He plans to check it often throughout his billing cycle, and not wait until the bill comes in the mail.
“I’ve had well over 300, 400 dollar bills in the past, I have a pool, so I’ve had leaks, or where I’ve over filled the pool and that’s been a big surprise,” said Smith. “This will give us the ability to notify us if something’s happened.”
He also hopes it helps save water.
“Water here in Central Texas is a very precious commodity and so obviously if we can save money not having to waste water, that’s a big issue to all of our homeowners,” said Smith.
But wouldn’t mind if it saves a little green as well.
“I think long term this is going to save a lot of money for the residents of Cedar Park,” said Smith.
The City will be able to use the data to monitor customer consumption, reduce water loss and theft and a reduction in labor and driving to read water meters.
"I look forward to having more analytics not only for decision-making but also for information sharing with residents," said Council Member Kristyne Bollier.
The 'smart meters' replaced about 22,000 residential water meters. The total cost of the replacements and web portal was just under $5.28 million from the City's Utility Fund savings.
To learn more about the 'smart meters' click here.
Cedar Park residents can sign up here.