LAS CRUCES – Water leaks are not always obvious. If an unfortunate leak is underground or not in an obvious location, it is water usage that alerts Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) of a potential leak. LCU employees then turn to customers – residential, commercial and industrial customers. One of the recently alerted customers was Ifo Pili, City Manager of Las Cruces.
For him, the leak was in his laundry room. Water ran down the drain without anyone noticing. At least someone in his house. “There would never have been a puddle that we would have noticed,” said Pili. “I am grateful that the program worked as it should and that my family was made aware of the excessive water consumption.”
“We found the threshold for notifying customers to be 5 gallons per hour,” said James Stafford, LCU management analyst. “This figure is based on the fact that the customer’s consumption on this tariff would exceed the 3,000 gallons included in their monthly access fee over a 30-day billing cycle.”
The current process for reporting leaks is for an LCU employee to monitor the system on a daily basis using the data acquisition system and the customer portal, the UtilityHawk warning system. “The accounts with the most critical warnings are usually listed first,” said Stafford.
If a warning is displayed on meters that show a continuous flow of water of 5 gallons per hour or more, an LCU representative will check the account in the data collection system and check the actual minimum hourly consumption. Depending on the severity, they notify the customer by phone, email or even send a sales representative.
“The rep then explains when the water event started and goes through a checklist of areas for the customer to review when physically inspecting their property,” said Stafford. “If the customer cannot locate the problem, staff can also request an LCU field survey to try to locate the problem. If these attempts fail and consumption continues, we recommend that the customer contact a licensed plumber to locate the leak. “
From the start of tracking on December 1, 2020 to August 31, 2021, LCU has notified 630 customers with high water consumption warnings – 493 private customers, 118 small commercial customers, 18 large commercial customers and one industrial customer account.
“Of the notified customers who repaired their water system and then contacted Customer Central, LCU provided $ 11,830.50 in account adjustments,” said Stafford.
In the event of water leaks that residents can see on the street, the LCU plans repairs based on the severity. As soon as the LCU has been alerted – either by the warning system or by a customer – a service employee comes to the site to access the leak. The four levels are:
- Level 1 is an emergency event. It is the flow of water in the air, or running water, that hinders traffic, or a loss of water or pressure in large urban areas.
- Level 2 is a major event that has an immediate impact on the area but does not pose an imminent threat to security.
- Level 3 is a leak that needs to be investigated for a source that is unlikely to be a main line for the city.
- Level 4 is classified as the most harmless, such as a slow drip from a broken water meter. It will receive attention in the order it is received after leaks have been fixed in the previous three levels.
If you see a leak, call the Utilities Emergency Service, available 24 hours a day, at 575-526-0500.
The LCU Customer Central can be reached Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at 575-541-2111. LCU provides clean, safe, and reliable services to Las Cruces residents and businesses. Learn more at: las-cruces.org/180/Utilities In an emergency, call Dispatch at 575-526-0500.
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