I received a call from the City of St. Albert’s Utilities and Environment Department notifying me our water usage overnight was continuous at 170 litres per hour.
Immediately I thought this will cost us a fortune if it continues, but luckily we have the new Neptune meter with real-time alerts so the city has caught this early, saving my family hundreds of dollars.
Wrong! It turns out when our furnace fired up this fall, the humidifier kicked in and had a failure resulting in a slow continuous run of water through the humidifier all day, even when the furnace is not working. This water drains undetected directly into the floor drain from the humidifier.
Like many families, I don’t check my humidifier daily, and did not think anything of the times I did see the humidifier running. Why would I? I have peace of mind knowing the city’s state-of-the-art meter will trigger a notification if there is a problem with the water use. Wrong!
So what I thought was caught early has actually been going on for two months, with 215 cubic meters of water being used in 60 days! Our family normally uses about 45 cubes in that same cycle. This translates into more than $500 over the usual water bill!
When I ask why I was not notified sooner, I am told by both the employee and his supervisor that the system does not effectively provide any real-time notifications to the homeowner. Not weekly notifications. Not even monthly! I am told it was caught only because the city took a water reading that day for my 60-day-cycle invoice. So nothing has changed from the old meter system that was in place.
An excerpt from the city’s website states, “The meters will provide you the opportunity to easily monitor your water usage, real time leak alerts, high usage notifications …” So if 170 litres of water flowing continuously every hour for two months does not constitute a leak alert notification from the city, what does?
All I am told by management is the city can’t monitor every one of the 21,000 households, because it receives hundreds of continuous use alerts each day and that Neptune’s system cannot differentiate between a one-litre-per-hour leak and 170-litre-per-hour leak without digging into more details on the account. All continuous usages show up the same on the report. Does anyone see a problem here?
Shame on you, City of St. Albert, for marketing these meters as providing peace of mind for homeowners, that significant water use anomalies or leaks will be caught early, saving the homeowner money.
They are not being caught at all! Taxpayer money well spent.
As the city told me, it ultimately is my responsibility as the homeowner to ensure the items in my home are working properly, and I agree; however, maybe the city should start making sure the technologies they are installing, from our tax dollars, are working properly, too!
Matt Porter, St. Albert