NYC to Track Real Time Water Use With Wireless Meters

Rusted old water tower rust

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California is leading the way with wireless water meters, but other locations aren't far behind. The latest to join in modernizing water metering-revolution is New York City.

Starting in 2010, residents of the Bronx are going to see every detail of their water consumption habits in real-time, thanks to a new $252 million city-wide upgrade of water meters and a new water use and bill tracking system. While it sounds like a lot for installation, smart metering for water use can save a whole lot more, over time, in both money and precious resource.

The New York Times reports that 834,000 customers have a wireless meter already installed and will be able to start using the system immediately. Meters are still being installed, and the effort should be completed by 2012. By consumers having the ability to see how much they're spending on water and where they're using it, they can make immediate changes to their behavior and hopefully conserve more water. Not only that, but the wireless meters also make it easier for the city to collect water bills.

"An average single-family pays more than $800 for water each year, so if this system leads to relatively modest reductions in water used by, let's say, 5 percent of homeowners, there will be significant savings for them, and we all know that nobody likes water rates," Mr. Bloomberg said at a news conference at City Hall.

NYT also reports that the system could lead to tiered pricing, where the biggest consumers pay more per unit of water, further encouraging cut-backs on water consumption -- an option that looks attractive to NYC's mayor.

Smart water technologies are predicted to be a booming business, hitting an estimated $16.3 billion in the next 10 years. Smart meters, consumer-facing gadgets that help them monitor their consumption, and back-end technologies for water utilities are all part of that push.

By moving forward with a smart water grid, just like with the smart electrical grid, we could save massive amounts of water. Especially in dense urban settings, dry areas, and places with high manufacturing or agricultural activity, that is very good news for people and the environment.