Water Leaks: How To Potentially Save Thousands of $$

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A few months ago, the Santa Fe Irrigation District installed a new wireless water meter on my property. I knew from Marlene King’s excellent articles that it would allow me to access near real time water usage information which could tell me if I had any water leaks. 

So last week, I finally got around to setting up a water usage portal account and logged in. I looked at the “Usage Details” 24 hour graph and it showed a baseline continuous usage of 0.1 HCF/hr at quiet times when I knew no one was using any water. When I did the numerical conversions to gallons I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had been leaking 75 gallons per hour for the last 22 days! 

I called the water district in a bit of a panic thinking maybe the meter was broken or there was some kind of mistake. The nice lady I talked to had seen this all before. Apparently they get lots of calls from people wondering why their usage and bills have spiked. She gave me some tips on how to track down the leak, and after a few hours of methodical sleuthing, I found an irrigation valve that was the cause of my problems. 

I did some calculations and estimated that this particular leak has cost me about $280. According to Marlene King, I got off lightly. Some people don’t catch leaks for a long time and the known record holder for biggest leak cost the homeowner $20,000 in increased water bills. 

Water Usage Portal

At this point, you’re probably wondering how to access this water usage portal. SFID certainly does not make this easy. First, there are two different customer portals. One is for your billing information, and while it does have a “Usage” tab, it only shows monthly water usage. 

Billing portal. This does not have detailed water usage information.

The correct “My Water Usage” portal will look like this after you click on the Usage Details tab.

Correct water usage portal. Click on the 24 hours sub tab to see almost real time data.

When you are on the Usage Details tab, you can then click on the 24 hours sub tab in the graph area and see how much water was used in each hour. This is almost real time – I think it lags by a few hours. At any rate, you can see that I used no water during the midnight and 1:00am time slots, and then some irrigation kicked in thereafter. If you show usage during when you think you shouldn’t have any usage (like if every time slot shows usage), then you have a leak. 

You can check out other 24 hour graphs for other days as well just by typing in different dates in the two boxes beside the 12 months sub tab. Just type in the same date for both boxes if you want to look at a 24 hour graph.

By default, usage is shown in CCF, which is the same as HCF, which is ‘Hundred Cubic Feet’ of water. It’s the unit you get billed at.  

Signing Up For The Water Usage Portal

Click here to see SFID’s instruction page on how to sign up for the water usage portal. Please read the instructions! It is funky and may take several attempts to get through the process. In particular, your name must be entered last name, then first name, like Trubey Phil. If you have two names on the account, just use the first listed name.