In late March, DC Water customer Mark Stein got an unexpected telephone message from the Authority. “We have observed a significant increase in daily usage for your home,” the message said, “that may indicate a problem with internal plumbing or higher usage.”
Surprised, and maybe somewhat alarmed, Mr. Stein went to investigate why his water use had suddenly spiked. His search led him to the basement bathroom where he found the culprit; the flap in the toilet tank had not closed properly and water had been running continually for a week. The graph below shows how dramatically water usage in the Stein household shot up.
To translate this into monetary terms, the value of the water consumed during the five days the leaking toilet went undetected was almost $40 a day. Before that, the customer’s normal cost of water was closer to $1.50 to $2.00 a day. A huge difference!
Mr. Stein fixed the problem and sent us a very appreciative email. He wrote, “Without the message from DC Water, who knows when we would have discovered this problem, stopped it, and attended to repairing it?”
We get responses like that on a fairly regular basis, and it speaks to the incredible value of our alert system, both to the customer and to us. Officially, it’s called the High Usage Notification Application – HUNA for short – and since its inception in 2006 DC Water has sent out more than 50,000 alerts to customers warning them that their water usage has suddenly increased and urging them to look for a leak or other plumbing problem that might be responsible for the increase.
Here’s how it works. Our Automated Meter Reading (AMR) network transmits data daily about water consumption. When the system notes a customer is using 6 times more water than normal, for 4 consecutive days, it generates an automated alert and either emails, calls or texts the customer.
We send out anywhere from 220 to 250 alerts every week, and approximately 11,000 - 13,000 alerts a year. In many cases, for the customers who get them like Mr. Stein, it may save them several hundred dollars in unexpected charges on their water bills, for water they didn’t know they were using! As another relieved customer put it, “Yay for innovative customer solutions!”
Signing up for the HUNA program is easy. If you already have an online DC Water account, with a valid email address or telephone number on file, you’re automatically enrolled. If you don’t have any account, just go to mydcwater.dcwater.com to register and get started. Also, if you prefer to register by phone, call Customer Service at 202-354-3600.