SANDY, Utah — A new app is helping Sandy residents conserve by not only telling them how much water they're using, but detecting leaks that could prevent an expensive bill.

Sandy City recently started using "WaterSmart," a software program that can also alert residents whenever they exceed typical water use.

"It's the next step we need to take in terms of water conservation," said Scott Ellis, an operations manager at Sandy City who has been trying it out with his family.

Ellis said the software already prevented an expensive bill for his elderly mother when it texted him an alert warning that she might have a leaky irrigation pipe. WaterSmart detected that her yard was using more than it's typical share of water.

"We upgraded to this newer software because it actually has built-in algorithms that will help identify what type of leak residents are looking at," said Abi Holt, the business services manager for Sandy City. "If that’s the case, it will send you an alert. You can set it up to send you an alert that will say you might have a leak in your toilet for instance, or you might want to check outdoors for a potential leak in your irrigation system."

The WaterSmart program with a mobile-friendly interface was launched this summer. Sandy City has about 1,000 subscribers out of its 26,000 customers. Residents can also pay bills using it. The software also offers tutorials on fixing leaks or ways to conserve water.

"Even in the first week, we got an email from a woman who right away set up an alert, got a notification that she had a leaky toilet and fixed and was able to reduce her water use in her house immediately," Holt said.

As Utah slips back into drought and grapples with saving the Great Salt Lake, technologies like these can help consumers reduce their water use while also saving money.

"The state has set goals particularly over the last few years as we were living through the intense drought for water conservation for 2030, 2040, 2060," Hold said. "This software will specifically help residents monitor their own use and see where they are relative to these goals that have been set."

Ellis said his family has adapted to the app, using it to see where they can save water.

"It’s kind of become a hobby for my wife," he said. "We have a smart controller on our sprinklers so she will adjust based on where the sun is and how much shade we have in the backyard. Some of our zones only run for 2-3 minutes."

Fox 13 Reporter
Ben Winslow is FOX 13's reporter on Capitol Hill covering a wide variety of topics including politics, polygamy, vice and courts. He has been in the news business in Utah for more than 20 years now, working in radio, newspaper, television and digital news. Winslow has received numerous honors for his reporting, including a national Edward R. Murrow award; the Religion Newswriters Association Local TV News Report of the Year; the Utah Broadcaster's Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. Readers of Salt Lake City Weekly and Q Salt Lake have named him their "Best TV news reporter" for many years now. He co-hosts "Utah Booze News: An Alcohol Policy Podcast," covering the state's often confusing and quirky liquor laws. Winslow is also known for his very active Twitter account keeping Utahns up-to-date on important news.

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