The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday December 8th

New water meters to manage water and reduce waste in Orange County

<p>OWASA workers monitor the amount of water flowing in and out of Chapel Hill during the Feb. 2017 water shortage.</p>
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OWASA workers monitor the amount of water flowing in and out of Chapel Hill during the Feb. 2017 water shortage.

The Orange Water and Sewer Authority, OWASA, has started the Agua Vista Metering Initiative, which will upgrade over 21,000 meters in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area, enabling OWASA to better monitor water usage throughout the county. 

OWASA believes this new initiative will provide residents with a better water management experience while reducing harmful water waste and limiting environmental impact. Unlike the current meters, the new meters will not have to be manually checked. OWASA will use the remotely provided hourly data from the new meters to quickly identify leaks. 

OWASA’s sustainability manager, Mary Tiger, said the initiative will improve OWASA’s service to the local community. Kentrel Inc. is working with OWASA to install the new meters, which Tiger said have received community support for their ability to save customers' money while also protecting the environment. 

Upgrades to the new meters will take approximately 30 minutes, and neighborhoods will be notified in advance about the service. When the upgrade is complete, Kentrel will leave a notification on the resident’s door. 

Denise Battle, OWASA's customer service manager , said the new initiative’s detection system will help customers save money and prevent property damage. 

“One of the best things about the program is that we’re able to help a customer by letting them know if we receive notice from our system that there is an unusual use pattern,” Battle said. “So it’s not always about the volume they use, sometimes it’s just about the pattern.”

Battle said the system is capable of detecting significant uses of water during unusual time periods, such as hours when residents are customarily asleep. Additionally, it will let OWASA know if there are abnormal patterns of constant use and will allow customers to be made aware of leaks and other water management issues. 

OWASA's team has been receiving good feedback from their customers about the initiative’s alert system, she said. The initiative has allowed residents to repair faulty systems early on, which prevents unnecessary usage. In some cases, these residents have called OWASA back and thanked them for alerting them to an issue. This change also has the added benefit of increasing OWASA’s productivity. 

“When you’re doing the right thing, you save everyone money and time and everything,” Battle said. 

Many customers haven’t updated their contact information, Battle said, which makes it difficult for OWASA to get in touch with them if there are any service issues.

This information can be updated by logging in to OWASA's invoice cloud or by calling 919-537-4343.

“It’s a good idea for people to make sure, if they haven’t already, that they follow up and give us an updated phone number,” Battle said. 


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