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California water utility introduces free smart meter programme
Smart meter news: Long Beach in California is trialling a retrofit technology on water meters to alert the water departments to customers breaking the mandated water restrictions

In a global round-up of smart meter news, the US state of California is responding to the state-wide drought with trials of a water metering programme.

Long Beach is three months into a smart water meter pilot, which claims to be making significant savings for the 200 consumers participating.

Tai Tseng, director of operations at Long Beach Water Department, told technology website Wired that one resident was able to cut her water bill by about 98% after discovering a leak beneath the foundation of her home.

The pilot program, which started in March, deployed water meter add-ons from a company called T2.

The Innov8 register with an LCD display can be added to most common meters to provide data logging in intervals down to one minute and flow down to 0.2 gallons.

The meters then communicate wirelessly over Verizon’s cellular data network, and T2 provides web-based analytics for customers to see their water usage via Microsoft’s Azure Cloud, Wired reported.

The technology enables Long Beach’s water department to identify which customers are disobeying specific restrictions, like watering their lawns for more than 10 minutes a week.

The smart water meter pilot comes as California's Governor Jerry Brown has called for water savings from home and business owners as local water districts are seeking to enforce a mandated restriction on water use.

Smart meter resistance

Meanwhile, Canadian utility British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority (BC Hydro) is suing a company for allegedly blocking access to smart meter installation.

BC Hydro filed a civil claim against the company - Puppy Holdings - for restricting access to two buildings where the utility services more than 100 residential endpoints, local media report.

The owner of the property appears to have acted over concerns that smart meter units near the meter room would be “unsuitable for habitation due to excessive microwave radiation, and required that BC Hydro indemnify against the resulting loss of rental revenue”.

The owner required that “BC Hydro warrant the accuracy, safety and security of the Smart Meters, and indemnify against any loss or increased insurance premiums resulting from their installation and use,” according to the claim.

BC Hydro is seeking a declaration permitting unrestricted access to the properties, an injunction preventing defendants from any further obstructions, and damages for interference with economic relations.