I should check back more frequently!

From time to time, I make use of polls to encourage reader engagement. Typically, I will publish the results of the poll in the next newsletter issue or blog post and forget about the poll.

Four years ago, I ran a poll asking which services utilities offer

leak adjustments for. The original poll results included responses from 38 utilities. I don’t even remember why I was looking at the results page on the polling software site, but imagine my surprise when I recently noticed that poll now has 113 responses! That’s 75 additional responses since I initially published the poll results. The updated responses are displayed below (clicking on any of the graphs will open a larger image in a new window):


Similar trend

Even with the increased number of responses, the trend is very similar to the original 38 responses, as shown below:


Here’s the raw data for both the original and revised poll results:


Comparing the results

Surprising as it was to find that 75 additional people completed the poll since the original results were posted, the updated results aren’t all that much different, proportionally, from the original results.

Overwhelmingly, utilities still offer leak adjustments for both water and sewer. Similarly, a relatively small percentage don’t offer leak adjustments at all. One minor difference between the two sets of results is an increase in the number of utilities offering leak adjustments for water only and a corresponding decrease in adjustments for sewer only.

Have you completed the 2019 Utility Fee Survey?

If you haven’t yet completed the 2019 Utility Fee Survey, please click here to complete the survey. It should take less than five minutes to complete.

If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me at gsanders@logicssolutions.com or call me at 919-232-2320.

Please feel free to share this survey with your peers at other utilities.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to complete the survey and for sharing it with other utilities.

Is your leak adjustment policy up-to-date?

If you’re wondering if your leak adjustment policy is appropriate for your utility, please give me a call at 919-232-2320, or email me at gsanders@logicssolutions.com for more information about how a business review could help you learn the answer.

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© 2019 Gary Sanders

Have you considered self-insuring your leak adjustment insurance?

Have you looked into offering an insurance program to insure your customers against having to pay for the water lost when they have a leak?

There are a number of for-profit companies offering leak protection insurance, so it must be a lucrative business. We met with a prospect recently who is considering self-insuring their own leak adjustment program. The concept of self-insurance in government has been around for a while and is very popular with some local governments.

Calculating the premium amount

The prospect I mentioned above is going to total their water leak adjustments for the most recent year and divide that total by the number of active water customers. They anticipate the premium will be about $.25 per customer. They plan to offer coverage for one leak per year and they will forgive excess usage for two consecutive billing months. Should the customer not get the leak repaired in a timely fashion, and the excessive usage extends into a third month, that will not be covered by the leak insurance.

Allowing customers to opt-out

This utility plans to give customers the option of opting out, if the so desire. However, that means they will get no assistance in the form of a leak adjustment, should they have a leak.

Making the program even more lucrative

This utility also has primarily AMI meters, so if they practice proactive leak detection, they can further mitigate the cost of leak claims they must pay, providing their customers cooperate and address a leak as soon as they are notified of one.

Is a leak insurance program for you?

Are you trying to decide if you should implement leak insurance? Furthermore, are you trying to determine is self-insurance makes sense? If the answer to either question is “yes”, please give me a call at 919-232-2320 or e-mail me at gsanders@logicssolutions.com to learn how a business review could help inform your decision-making process.

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© 2019 Gary Sanders

The case for proactive leak detection

I know of utilities with AMI (Automated Metering Infrastructure) systems who aren’t doing proactive leak detection. My question is why wouldn’t they?

Certainly, an AMI system is the most convenient way to read meters. Unlike using handhelds, or even an AMR system, AMI systems require no labor to collect meter readings for billing. But to view an AMI system as simply a labor-saving meter reading tool is a huge mistake.

Review of AMI technology

AMI systems are preprogrammed to read each meter at set intervals – sometimes only once each day, other times as frequently as several times per hour. These frequent meter readings calculate incremental usages, which can be compared to historic usage patterns for the account. When a large increase in usage is detected and does not return to normal, this generally indicates a leak or other situation requiring the customer’s attention, such as a hung toilet.

What is proactive leak detection?

Using proactive leak detection, a utility with an AMI system monitors the system outputs each day and immediately contacts the customer to alert them to the prolonged excessive usage. This places the responsibility for finding and fixing a leak on the customer. Logically, it only follows, if the utility has immediately notified the customer of a potential leak, the utility now shoulders no responsibility for providing leak adjustments of any sort.

Advantages of proactive leak detection

When potential leaks are being monitored on a daily basis, and the customer rectifies the problem promptly, water is conserved. This is especially important in times of drought or if your utility purchases water for resale from another utility.

Another advantage of proactive leak detection is not having to deal with leak adjustments. For many utilities, leak adjustments can be a time consuming process, involving contacting the customer to provide documentation the leak has been fixed, researching normal usage patterns, performing the calculation to determine the amount of the leak adjustment, and, finally, applying the leak adjustment to the customer’s account. Imagine never having to do another leak adjustment!

Is your leak adjustment policy up-to-date?

Have you implemented an AMI system but still offer leak adjustments? Or has it been a while since you’ve reviewed your leak adjustment policy? If your utility falls into either of these cases, please give me a call at 919-232-2320 or e-mail me at gsanders@logicssolutions.com to learn how a business review could help.

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© 2018 Gary Sanders

You’re invited!

I would like to invite you to participate in the 2015 Utility Fee Survey. I’m researching what fees different utilities charge and how much they charge for each fee.

The results of the survey will be published in a series of upcoming e-mail newsletters and then posted here on my blog. To be sure you receive the results of the survey, if you haven’t already signed up for my free e-mail newsletter, please click here to subscribe.

2012 Survey Results

I conducted a similar survey in 2012 and you can review the results here:

Complete the 2015 Utility Fee Survey

If you are willing to participate in the survey, please click here to complete the survey. It should take less than five minutes to complete.

If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me at gsanders@logicssolutions.com or call me at 919-232-2320.

I would like as much participation as possible in the survey, so please feel free to pass this on to your colleagues at other utilities.

Thank you in advance for your participation in the Utility Fee Survey.

Water leak adjustments rate poll results

The previous Utility Information Pipeline included a poll asking what rate utilities used to calculate water leak adjustments. Here are the results of that poll (clicking on the chart will open a large image in a new window):

Leak adjustment rate poll results

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© 2015 Gary Sanders

Leak adjustments poll results

As the result of several listserv questions, the previous Utility Information Pipeline included a poll asking which services utilities offer leak adjustments for.

If you missed it, you can still participate in the poll by clicking here.

Poll results

Overwhelmingly, the poll results indicate that most of the utilities who responded offer leak adjustments for both water and sewer.

Here are the results of the poll (clicking on the chart will open a larger image in a new window):

Leak adjustments poll results

Water only

Initially, the eight responses of water only seemed surprising. However, when I looked into who clicked on the poll link in the last newsletter (I can see who clicked the link, but I can’t tell what their response was to the poll, or if they even took the poll), several of those people work for water only utilities. So I have a strong suspicion that most, if not all, of the water only responses don’t mean they offer water, but not sewer, leak adjustments – rather they don’t provide sewer, therefore they offer leak adjustments for water only.

Sewer only

I was rather surprised that only three (less than 10 percent) of the responses only offer sewer adjustments. I honestly expected this number to be much larger.

As discussed in the previous newsletter, water leak adjustments directly impact the utility’s bottom line, whereas sewer adjustments for leaks that do not enter the sewer system do not. For this reason I anticipated more sewer only responses.

No leak adjustments

The three responses here was not a surprise. Some utilities take the hard line approach that all water that passes through the meter is the customer’s responsibility, regardless if there was a leak or not.

Comments

Three people who participated in the poll left comments describing their leak adjustment policies. If you are interested in seeing these comments, please click here.

Follow-up poll

My curiosity was piqued with so many utilities offering water leak adjustments, so I’ve created another poll to see if the credit is calculated at full retail price or some lesser rate, such as wholesale cost.

If you offer water leak adjustments, please take this quick poll.

Are you considering adopting or updating your leak adjustment policy?

Are you considering adopting a leak adjustment policy or updating an existing one? If you have questions about leak adjustment policies, or any other policies, please give me a call at 919-232-2320 or e-mail me at gsanders@logicssolutions.com to learn how a business review could benefit your utility.

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© 2015 Gary Sanders

What is your leak adjustment policy?

Several questions have been posed in the last few months on listservs I subscribe to regarding leak adjustments. Does your utility have a leak adjustment policy? Here are some things to consider when establishing or reviewing a leak adjustment policy.

Water leak adjustments

The biggest question with a leak adjustment policy is whether to offer an adjustment for the excess water usage.

Since all water delivered through the meter costs the utility something, either in treatment costs or purchase price, simply forgiving the amount of a water leak isn’t financially feasible.

Some utilities do have adjustment policies whereby the customer only pays the wholesale price for the excess water used. Others take a more hard line approach and do not offer any leak adjustment for water.

Sewer leak adjustments

Most utilities will provide a leak adjustment if the water was lost due to a leak that did not enter the sewer system (for example, a leak in the supply line between the meter and the house).

Leaks that did enter the sewer system, such as a continually running toilet, pose the same issue as water leaks. The utility had to pay to treat the wastewater, so can they afford to offer an adjustment?

Considerations for a Leak Adjustment Policy

If you’re considering adopting a leak adjustment policy or thinking about revising an existing policy, here are some criteria commonly found in leak adjustment policies:

  • The customer must make a formal request (usually using a leak request form)
  • Proof that the leak was repaired (copy of plumber’s repair bill or a sales receipt from a plumbing supply store)
  • Excess amount of water usage to qualify for a leak adjustment (for example, the water usage must exceed twice the monthly average)
  • Limitation on the frequency of leak adjustments (for example, one adjustment in any 12 month period)
  • Maximum number of billing periods that may be adjusted due to the leak (for example, if the customer ignores the leak for three months, will you give credit for all three months?)
  • Calculation method for determining the amount of the adjustment

Quick poll

What services do you offer leak adjustments for? Please take this quick poll.

Are you considering adopting a leak adjustment policy?

Are you considering adopting a leak adjustment policy or updating an existing one? If you have questions about leak adjustment policies, or any other policies, please give me a call at 919-232-2320 or e-mail me at gsanders@logicssolutions.com to learn how a business review could benefit your utility.

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© 2015 Gary Sanders