City water customers will be able to monitor their home or business's water usage online thanks to wireless water meters being installed as part of the mayor's Automated Meter Reading program.
The wireless meters, once installed, transmit data every six hours. The online service allows customers to view their usage anywhere from daily to monthly. City officials hope the system will help customers "identify ways to conserve water, reduce water bills and detect leaks," according to a statement on the program.
The Bronx was first to receive the service; starting yesterday, water customers whose homes and businesses have been installed with the wireless meters could go to the city's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) website and -- with no extra charge -- sign up to receive notifications of their water use.
Queens is next, on July 26th, then Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island on August 9th, 23rd, and September 7th, respectively. Once completed, New York City will be the largest city in the world to use wireless water metering, the mayor's office says.
The meters' installation began in March 2009 and to date is 46 percent complete -- 380,000 of the city's 834,000 water customers now have the wireless units.The city estimates that all NYC water customers will have the meters by January 2012, taking into account an estimated 7,000 to 9,000 new customers added each week to the system.
"The Automated Meter Reading technology is a boon to water conservation across the City," said Council Member James F. Gennaro at Mayor Bloomberg's announcement Monday in City Hall. "In this rough economy, this technology is clearly something that makes both sense and cents."
Aside from helping customers reduce their bills, the city expects to save money as well. The wireless transmitters instantly report water usage, so the city no longer needs to contract ConEd to manually read water meters, saving approximately $3.6 million a year. Further, more accurate monitoring will lead to fewer disputes over bills, thus "more bills being paid sooner," the city said in a statement.
The total cost of the system's installation is $252 million, including the wireless transmitters on the water meters and the rooftop receivers which transmit the data back to the DEP.
"By providing information faster and more accurately, we're giving our customers the tools they need to make smart decisions about their water consumption," said DEP Commissioner Cas Holloway. "When people know more, they can save more ... Customer service is our top priority."