SAWS offers large rebate toward sensors to help monitor water usage

Sensors can pinpoint leaks, display real-time water use

SAN ANTONIO – We have all asked before: "Why is my water bill so high?" and "How did I use that much water?"

San Antonio Water System believes it has found a way to help answer that question, whether it be a leak or just an irrigation system that is running overtime. 

"I've had a leak before and it was very expensive, and so I wanted to prevent that," said Nan Palmero, who tested a SAWS' sensor.

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The product Palmero used is called a Flume Sensor, and it's one of several sensors SAWS is offering via its website. 

The Flume Sensor, however, is the easiest and most inexpensive option. It measures water usage in near-real-time across your household. That data is then sent to an app on your smartphone.  

"(Customers) just don't believe it," said Karen Guz, director of conservation for SAWS. "They can't imagine how they've used so much water, and they're frustrated."

SAWS said these type of calls come in often, so they hope the sensors will help customers understand and diagnose their water use more clearly.  

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The Flume Sensor simply straps onto your water meter and you will need Wi-Fi for it to work. It normally costs $200, but SAWS is offering a $150 rebate for the device, meaning the device will only cost you $50.

"Was it the irrigation system? Or is a toilet leaking? All kinds of things can go wrong in our home that are hard to spot and this helps," Guz said.

SAWS said it's irrigation systems that can most often surprise customers when it comes to water usage. For Palmero, it turned out to be something different. 

"The thing that ended up being the most expensive, water use-wise, was the washing machine for the clothes," said Palmero, while looking at his app. 

The Flume Sensor and other available sensors can be found for purchase on the SAWS website.  

As for privacy, Guz said SAWS will not have any control over your water. The device, she said, is only meant to help the consumer.  

Guz said, however, that SAWS plans to study the aggregate data to see if the sensors do indeed help customers reduce their water usage. 

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