The Rancho Santa Fe Post

WATER NEWS… Automatic Meters: How to Know if There's a Leak!

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If you have an Automatic Meter (AMI), have you signed up to access the hourly data?

I have, and I was able to locate, to the hour, the beginning of a leak in a pipe under constant pressure. My last water bill seemed high, about $200.00 too high. Hmm. New automatic meter installed. Maybe it was defective, I said to myself. By a fluke, I happened to be the first SFID customer to access the new portal, and the following are some techniques I found helpful in tracking down the volume and start of the leak.

  • The portal has a default setting to display water usage in CCF, or 748 gallons, which is how our SFID bills are calculated. Depending on your browser, look to the top left of your screen (mine displayed three horizontal lines to the left of the SFID round emblem) and click. The really useful settings should then display. 1.) Usage details = 24 hours/7days/30 days/12 months. I clicked onto 24 hours, and I find that setting very useful. 2.) Settings = *units. As stated, the default setting here is CCF, or 748 gallons. I clicked onto “gallons”, and, for the most part, found usage displayed in gallons helped me find the leak and generally helped me analyze and understand my usage.
  • Whenever a bar graph displays, slowly move your mouse cursor along the bar graph. Moving the cursor displays the actual gallons usage, hour by hour, that customers with large outdoor irrigation demands probably wouldn’t be able to distinguish, because the high outdoor irrigation usage makes the bar graph appear less sensitive at low, indoor water use levels. Slowly moving the cursor enabled me to track and discover the beginning of the leak, when that leak volume doubled, and then tripled, in my case.

Please Note: A portion of the Covenant, and all of Fairbanks Ranch, have had AMI installed. FY2019 will have AMI installed in three Covenant routes: route #701 (Eastern/Southeastern border of the Covenant; route #702 (essentially north of the golf course, but not the northernmost edge of the District); and route #703 (Southern border of the Covenant).

At the July 19th Board meeting, I again requested that the District expedite the AMI installation schedule, as currently the plan is for three more years until all properties are switched to AMI. Staff offered that they would bring back to the Board a plan to not change the FY2019 installation schedule, but to install all remaining meters in FY2020 – making the five year rollout a four year rollout. I will continue to follow-up with this issue, as AMI provides great value to you, the customer, once one understands the portal sufficiently to suspect leaks and then track down the time and volume of water leaks. This is particularly useful for customers with large homes (lots of potential running toilets) and outdoor irrigation pipe breaks/valve leaks.

SFID June 21st Board Meeting: Fairbanks Ranch’s own Allyson Tsang, daughter of Samuel Tsang and Ye Hue, lot #119, won first place in this year’s Water Awareness Poster Contest. Allyson’s remarks, upon receiving her award, were thoughtfully composed and beautifully delivered. Second place went to Francesca Sansone, a student at R. Roger Rowe School. Congratulations to the young artists residing in Div. 3, who, two years in a row, garnered first place. Well done!

The FY2019 SFID Budget was adopted, without modification, by a unanimous vote of the Board.

Daily Water Usage Continues to Rise: June 2018 potable water deliveries were calculated at 490 gallons/per/capita/day. (For those of you who keep track, that is an increase of 59 g/p/c/d from May’s 431 g/p/c/d.)

“El Nino” Watch for winter 2018-2019 from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration): The recent July 12, 2018 El Nino Diagnostic Discussion Prediction places the chance of El Nino increasing to about 65% during the fall, to about 70% during winter 2018-2019. While our San Diego region can certainly attest that a high El Nino prediction number does not necessarily translate to high rainfall totals over our region, it doesn’t hurt to have scientists beginning to weigh in that conditions are starting to align. It remains to be seen if the “ridiculously resilient ridge” will park itself along our coastline, diverting rainfall from our region.

Search for Water…on Mars: Readers may recall I have a soft spot for the Mars Rover, Opportunity, designed by NASA scientists to perform for 90 days, but on July 7, 2018 started its fifteenth year on the Red Planet searching for signs of water.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory normally issues Opportunity Updates every 5 – 7 days. Unfortunately, the last NASA report was dated June 26, 2018. The May 30th report headlined – “Regional Dust Storm is Affecting Opportunity”. The June 10th report stated, “Power levels on the rover dropped to a record low. As expected, Opportunity tripped a low-power fault and has gone silent.” NASA re-programmed the Deep Space Network dishes to listen on any pass pointed at Mars that corresponds to possible wake up times for the rover. NASA’s June 11th report characterized the dust storm as a Planet-encircling Dust Event (PEDE). If the dust on the solar array has gotten worse, Opportunity could also experience a mission clock fault.

So…keep your fingers crossed that American know-how and more than a little bit of luck will keep the golf-cart sized rover, that America shot into space on July 7th 2003, survives this PEDE, and somehow conditions on Mars will clear the dust off its solar arrays, and entering the Mars summer will have maintained just enough warmth to keep its batteries working. And did I mention that Opportunity put itself into power-saving deep, deep sleep in “Perseverance Valley”?