LONG BEACH (CBSLA.com) — Water authorities are using a new tool in a major effort to crack down on people and businesses wasting water in light of new water restrictions issued by Gov. Jerry Brown to fight the drought.
The Long Beach Water Department says sprinklers at a McDonald's restaurant on Bellflower Boulevard went on for 45 minutes at a time, twice a night, for an undefined number of nights. Complaints continued to mount as water pooled and wasted. The department, however, could do little about the wasting.
That was before the smart meter.
Since its installation in February, Long Beach Water Department General Manager Kevin Wattier says he saw an immediate spike by tens of thousands of gallons, each time McDonald's overwatered their property.
"It collects the data every five minutes, then after midnight, the cellphone that's built in here comes on, makes one call, and calls it in to the database that we and the customer, through a password security system, have online access to their consumption," Wattier said.
"The accuracy is just incredible, because we get the data the next day."
Using this data, Wattier knew the precise moment to send his employees to videotape the infractions to use as evidence.
"We are using it specifically for an enforcement tool to go after those customers who we've gotten lots of complaints about," Wattier said.
Wattier says he believes the smart meter will be used in both businesses and homes to track water waste across Southern California.
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