Government can now use smart water meters to monitor your water use and enforce regulations.
The city of Long Beach, California, is using the meters to enforce Governor Jerry Brown’s statewide 25 percent restriction on water use, CBS in Los Angeles reported.
The smart meters monitor water flow and then transmit that information to the water department via wireless technology. That enables officials to detect violations like overwatering lawns and to take legal action against home, business and property owners.
“It collects the data every five minutes, then after midnight, the cellphone that’s built in here comes on, makes one call, and calls it in to the database that we and the customer, through a password security system, have online access to their consumption,” Keven Wattier, the general manager of the Long Beach Water Department, told CBS of the technology. “The accuracy is just incredible, because we get the data the next day.”
CBS reported that a McDonald’s franchise on Bellflower Boulevard in Long Beach received an $800 fine for flooding its landscaping with water after midnight because of data from a smart meter. Before the meters, there was little that the city could do to stop the waste. Several homeowners have received warnings.
“One of them has reduced their consumption by 88 percent since we put the smart meter in. So in most cases, absolutely, it changes their behavior quickly,” Wattier told L.A.’s NBC affiliate. “They know we’re watching and you can’t hide.”
Long Beach is trying to conserve water because of the mega-drought gripping California. The drought prompted Brown, a Democrat, to declare a state of emergency and order the state to cut water use by 25 percent.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power also is looking into the use of smart meters to punish water wasters.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Long Beach homeowners actually have volunteered to get the smart meters, with the goal of conserving water.
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Smart meters explode
Residents of another California city, Stockton, may not be as receptive of smart meters – this time, smart meters tied to the power grid. Around 5,000 smart meters on homes in that city exploded because of a power surge in March, CBS in Sacramento reported.
The explosions in the meters were powerful enough to shake houses. The meters were installed by the utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and started exploding after a dump truck knocked down a utility pole at a substation, causing two power lines to touch each other and create a power surge.
Around 8,000 people lost electricity. CBS described the damaged smart meters as “incinerated.”
“The neighbor across the street, his meter doesn’t look as bad but his receptacles are all blackened,” Stockton resident Brad Abernathy said.
The surge that destroyed the smart meters also scorched power outlets.
“There’s a potential there could be damage to customers’ appliances inside their homes,” PG&E spokeswoman Brandi Ehlers said. Residents will have to file claims with PG&E for damaged appliances.
P&GE replaced all of the incinerated meters.
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