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Climate and Environment

New Program Lets LADWP Customers Monitor Home Water Use. Goal: Less Waste, More Conserving

A grey plastic box is attached via a rubber strap to an example of a metal water meter, which has a clock-face device with a hand that points at the latest reading of the amount of water — in cubic feet — that has flowed through the pipe. The device sits on top of a black tablecloth and is surrounded by other various metal hardware.
A "Flume" smart water monitoring device straps onto a house’s water meter, tracks the meter's magnetic signature, connects to a wireless internet network, and feeds data on water use to a smartphone app. The L.A. Department of Water and Power has announced a program to cover most of the cost to customers living in single-family homes who want to buy the device.
(Kyle Stokes
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Los Angeles Department of Water and Power officials on Thursday offered to pick up much of the cost for outfitting single-family homes in the city with monitoring devices that could help customers find ways to save more water in their daily lives.

LADWP officials and Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the program amid an ongoing drought that has prompted the utility to limit lawn-watering to two days per week. Already, the city has posted record reductions on water use in recent months.

But officials hope this new program could help individual users save even more water.

Officials said customers can sign up to receive a device called a "flume," which straps onto a house's water meter and feeds data on a customer's water use to a smartphone app.

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Hourly Readouts

The hourly readouts offer users information about their own water use that would never show up on a bimonthly bill.

It’s amazing how often we find small drips and leaks that go undetected.
— Marty Adams, LADWP's general manager

“It’s helped us sometimes if a toilet handle is stuck and you don't know that for a couple days," said Garcetti, whose official residence is outfitted with a similar device. "It'll tell you, ‘Something’s off and you’re using a little too much water.’ It’ll let you know if a pipe’s leaking."

"It’s amazing," added Marty Adams, LADWP's general manager, "how often we find small drips and leaks that go undetected. It’s only sometimes through a smart device that these leaks can show up and be found."

Officials said the city will not track data from individual devices.

For The Low, Low Price...

Normally, the devices retail for nearly $200 dollars — but through an LADWP pilot program, customers can get one for just $24 after the return of a rebate. The city said those hoping to sign up should visit Flume's website.

One (big) caveat: The monitoring device program is only open to customers living in single-family homes for now. Garcetti noted other conservation programs are currently available for owners of larger properties.

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Kyle Stokes reports on the public education system — and the societal forces, parental choices and political decisions that determine which students get access to a “good” school (and how we define a “good school”).