A property manger recently contacted WaterWatch Corporation with a concern regarding their property where WaterWatch is submetering and billing tenants for water, sewer and trash usage. The property had just received a municipality water and sewer bill showing a dramatic spike of 550,000 gallons of water usage during the past quarter.

Skeptical about submetering from the start, the property manager was concerned that their submetering system was not functioning. Even worse was the fear of the additional expenses for tracking down and remedying the 550,000 gallons of additional usage that has gone unnoticed. WaterWatch responded to the property’s problem in less than 24 hours.

At only 14 months old, the wireless submetering system checked out to be in working order and recording usage as expected. Within the same day as being contacted, WaterWatch was able to assure the property manager that the submeters had all been recording usage that was in line with average usage over the past six months. Since all 240 apartments had submeters installed, WaterWatch was able to eliminate over 95% of the property as the source for the additional 550,000 gallons of water usage.

In addition to eliminating 95% of the property as the source, WaterWatch was able to offer advice and suggestions from similar past occurrences at various other properties. This allowed plumbers and maintenance crews to focus on just the remaining 5% of the property when searching for the leak, saving the property both time and money.

Over the following days, WaterWatch followed up with onsite property personnel and learned that the 550,000 gallons actually came from two sources. The first was the refilling of the onsite swimming pool from when it was cleaned and serviced. This accounted for approximately 200,000 gallons. While many might think this is an obvious place to check for excess water usage, pools, fire hydrants, fountains, and irrigation systems are often overlooked.

The second factor causing the spike in usage was an underground leak in the main waterline. This leak was located because a portion of the property’s yard was very wet and not drying out. It is believed that the cold winter and deep frost caused the leak began when the ground thawed out. The high volume draw from the pool being filled at the same time as the leak in the main line may have caused the leak to grow more rapidly.

WaterWatch suggested that property management contact the municipality regarding the additional 550,000 gallons of water and sewer usage and request a sewer credit be applied. Typically, a property’s water usage is used to determine sewer usage for billing. In this case, the municipality shouldn’t bill out the extra 550,000 gallons towards sewer usage because it never went into the sewer system. Properties can obtain sewer credits by installing a submeter on the water supply to the pool or irrigation system.


Andris Silins has a combined 20+ years experience in the utility submetering and multifamily residential real estate industries. He is currently the Operations & Technology Manager at WaterWatch Corporation.


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