Seal Rock gets handle on water usage


SEAL ROCK — With stories of about half a million gallons of water use at one residential property in single month and water coming out from under the front door of a house, officials at the Seal Rock Water District have alerted customers to misuses of water and leaks on a property that could cost customers thousands of dollars in not only water bills, also associated home repairs.

“This saves customers the cost of repairs in their home,” said Trish Karlson, bookkeeper at the Seal Rock Water District. “I’ve called so many people who left hoses on, and by setting alerts, a customer can look and see if they’re high that day. They can see if they’re over-watering.”

With the installation of the smart meters in some customer’s homes and signing up for a new water usage customer portal account, the district and individual customers can get a more accurate water reading. If a customer signs up for alerts through the district’s water usage portal system, any leaks, running toilets or other unusual water use activity can come to a homeowner’s attention much more quickly.

The smart meters and the rollout of the water use portal system was paid for by a $1.5 million U.S. Department of Agriculture grant, and so far 13 percent of the district’s 2,557 customers signed up, a total of more than 300 people.

“This will help measure water,” said Brendi Hargrove, clerk for the Seal Rock Water District. “It’ll show customers whether or not they need to water that day.”

Hargrove added, “With the new system, we can detect in a day if there’s a leak going on and we can detect if there’s continuous consumption.”

For the many vacation rental properties in the area, which go unoccupied sometimes for weeks or months at a time, this is especially crucial, according to Hargrove.

“Sometimes a toilet will run,” Hargrove said. “It could run for a whole month and nobody would hear.”

The Seal Rock Water District isn’t the only local water service provider to work towards rolling out a system that alerts customers to high or unusual water activity on their property. The City of Newport, one of the biggest water service providers on this stretch of the coast, has that as a goal, according to the city’s assistant engineer.

“That’s not a program we have in place,” said Clare Paul, assistant city engineer for the City of Newport. “We do want to do that, but we just don’t have that timeline.”

Lincoln City, too, is moving in the direction of the Seal Rock Water District, but won’t roll out any similar efforts for an estimated five to 10 years, according to city officials.

“There’s not too many of them that have that in place,” said Lincoln City Public Works Director Lila Bradley about the Seal Rock system. “Happy to see they have it, but we’re just not there yet.”

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