By Kelly Koepke
Published in the Las Cruces Sun-News 5/2/21
Imagine what an undetected water leak at your home or rental property could cost you over time. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, household leaks can waste nearly 1 trillion gallons of water per year nationwide. That equates to a lot of money and potential damage to your property.
Introducing UtilityHawk from Las Cruces Utilities (LCU), a new way for customers to manage water and natural gas usage, including detecting water leaks.
Just ask LCU customer Jo Nash who was recently notified by LCU that upwards of 60 gallons of water per hour were continuously flowing through her meter, which was unusual.
“The alert saved us!” she said. “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.
The alert was made possible by UtilityHawk, which warns customers when threshold levels are reached – by volume, elapsed time of usage, or as their bill approaches a pre-set amount.
LCU management analyst James Stafford has been testing UtilityHawk, 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 or a larger one like the break in Nash’s irrigation system. This enables customers to address the issue immediately or adjust their budget if the unusual usage is intentional, such as filling a swimming pool.
Since UtilityHawk can be used by customers with multiple accounts, such as property managers or landlords, it can help identify increased and continuous water usage caused by a dripping faucet in a rental unit, for example. With UtilityHawk, you can 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.
LCU customers can access their water and natural gas accounts at the touch of a button from any device – desktop or laptop computers, tablets, or smartphones – in English or Spanish. UtilityHawk provides interactive graphs tracking gas and water usage in real time, and it offers a secure way to pay bills online. “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 just a few reasons to give UtilityHawk a try. Sign up at LCUtilityHawk.com for free.
LCU Customer Central can be reached at 575-541-2111 from 8 a.m. - 6p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.
PHOTO 1: Luis Gonzales, LCU water leak technician, checking for vibrations, which would identify a possible leak. - Courtesy of LCU