Smart meters could save water users money

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. — Some new technology is spreading across communities in the Charlotte area -- tech that you may not even notice but that could save you money.

Radio antennas are popping up on street signs collecting data from your house.

They are hardly noticeable in Kannapolis neighborhoods.

Lafayette Wade remembers when the city changed out his old water meter and vaguely remembers the city explaining that new wireless technology was coming three years ago.

"I didn't know where they put the antennas. I think that's pretty cool. I'm a tech geek," he said.

The smart meters that now cover all of Kannapolis are a big leap forward, city spokeswoman Annette Privette Keller said.

"We don't have to have people physically go to every house and read a meter," she said.

Many of the city's water meters were 20-plus years old and no longer as accurate as they once were. The new ones are equipped with transmitters that are read wirelessly and the data is sent to City Hall.

The city of Kannapolis spent $6 million on the project, replacing 19,000 water meters. The city plans to
recoup that cost through greater efficiency.

The constant electronic surveillance can also help you spot leaks quickly because you can sign up online and see how much water you're using every day, even by the hour.

Casey Williams said he can see the benefit of that and the cost savings compared to fixing an expensive leak.

"I think that's great. I think that could be a great feature, especially in the summertime when you're watering your lawn," he said.

Signing up to pay your bill online also gives you the option to have
an email or text alert if your water usage is suddenly higher than normal. Other cities in our area are also using this technology, such as Charlotte and Gastonia.

Rock Hill is testing it right now in a pilot program using about 2,500 smart meters.

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