By Kelly Koepke
Published in the Las Cruces Bulletin 4/23/21
Las Cruces Utility (LCU) customer Jo Nash recently received a notification that upwards of 60 gallons of water per hour were continuously flowing through her meter. The alert was made possible by LCU’s new UtilityHawk system, that warns customers when threshold levels for unusual activity are reached – by volume, by elapsed time of usage, or as their bill approaches a pre-set amount. In Nash’s case, a continuous flow of 60 gallons of water per hour was unusual.
“The alert saved us!” she says. “We immediately looked around and saw that an irrigation valve had broken. Without the alert, we’d still be pouring water into the ground without knowing it – at least until the bill came! Not many people can afford a huge spike in their utility bill, so we’re grateful and happy that this new system notifies people in real time,” said Nash.
James Stafford, LCU management analyst, has been testing the UtilityHawk system for several months, using it to monitor unusual water usage and contacting customers to identify problems. The system sends a notification when spikes in usage occur, which might indicate a minor issue like a leaky toilet flap, running garden hose, or a bigger one like the break in Nash’s irrigation system. That way, customers can address the issue immediately, or could adjust their budget if the unusual usage is something they are intentionally doing such as filling a swimming pool.
For property managers or landlords, increased and continuous water usage could signal something as simple and easy as a dripping faucet in a rental unit – before the tenant even has a chance to contact maintenance. These customers can use UtilityHawk to monitor water and gas usage for multiple accounts, budget for payments, encourage tenants to conserve, or address problems well before potential damage to pipes and property, or a water bill that is higher than expected.
Customers access information about their water and natural gas account at the touch of a button from any device – desktop or laptop computers, tablets, or smartphones – in English or Spanish. UtilityHawk’s interactive graphs track gas and water usage in real time, and the site provides a secure way to pay bills online instead of mailing or dropping off a payment.
“The website allows customers an easier way to see their usage information, pay their bill, and even contact LCU’s Customer Central through the portal,” says Stafford. “UtilityHawk helps make us more efficient and better able to serve customers by decreasing water waste, cutting down on maintenance calls, and ultimately reducing costs.”
Saving money, conserving water, and preventing damage are all reasons to adopt new technologies. To get started with UtilityHawk, you will need an email address, contact information, the account/customer number, and service address. Visit https://www.lascnm.utilityhawk.us today!
LCU Customer Central can be reached at 575-541-2111 from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.
PHOTO 1: LCU Crew working on service line-courtesy of LCU.