Unbeknownst to Thornton Park homeowner Logan Lamphere, an irrigation leak under his deck was spilling more than 1,400 gallons of water an hour.

Thornton Park resident Logan Lamphere considers himself an environmentally conscientious person: He powers his home with OUCommunity Solar, a clean energy subscription program, and is a member of the OUC solar advocacy group The Bright Bunch. He recently took the Green Your Routine pledge, reaffirming his commitment to sustainability, a topic he also writes about for a local publication. So he was understandably upset when he found out that for nine days more than 1,400 gallons of water per hour were being wasted somewhere on his property.

That’s more than 300,000 gallons of water, enough to fill 20 typical backyard in-ground pools.

Unusually high spikes in customer’ energy and/or water use show up on daily reports monitored by OUC’s Sustainability team. If extraordinary consumption continues for a few days, something’s likely amiss with an electrical appliance like an air conditioning unit, the plumbing or irrigation system, often unbeknownst to the homeowner. Armed with the relevant meter data on a laptop, a Conservation Specialist visits the customer’s home to alert them of the aberration in usage and offers to locate the possible source.

An internal view of Logan Lamphere’s irrigation meter reading showed a spike in water usage occurring on March 10 and continuing until March 19, when an OUC Conservation Specialist notified him of a possible leak.                                           

You can avoid the unpleasant surprise of high utility bills by monitoring your daily energy and water consumption. Just go to your myOUC online account and sign up for OUC’s Usage Dashboard.
On March 19, 2021, 10 days before Lamphere’s bill was scheduled to be generated, Debbie Ziegler, Conservation Specialist II, proactively notified Lamphere of the suspected leak, then set out to find the culprit that was wasting more than 24 gallons of water every minute. Ziegler had a pretty good idea of the source since the high levels of water usage were being recorded on Lamphere’s irrigation meter, which is separate from his home’s water meter.

Lamphere and Zeigler surveyed the property looking for puddling water, but they didn’t see any signs of a leak. Lamphere said he remembered that his irrigation system ran underneath the raised deck in his backyard. A looksee under it revealed a small “lake,” as he described the pool of water being silently fed by a ruptured irrigation pipe.

A look under the backyard deck revealed the source of the spike in Logan Lamphere’s irrigation usage.

Within an hour, Lamphere had the irrigation pipe repaired. But had OUC not alerted him of the possible leak and it had gone undetected for another 10 days when his March bill would be posted, another 353,000 gallons of water might have been lost, resulting in an additional $2,900 in charges. That’s assuming Lamphere would have seen his bill the day it posted and immediately stopped the leak.

The irrigation mishap accounted for $2,300 on Lamphere’s March OUC utility bill. Normally, his irrigation charge would run $15 a month. Lamphere submitted a request to OUC’s Customer Service department for a “courtesy adjustment,” attaching with it a copy of the receipt for irrigation repairs.

In May, Lamphere, a self-employed IT consultant who also writes for The Community Newspaper covering downtown neighborhoods, was relieved to hear that he would receive an adjustment for more than half the charges.

“Had Debbie not shown up on my doorstep I would not have known for days or weeks that I had a major leak in my irrigation system,” he said. “Not only would it have cost me much more, I would have wasted so much more water. We really go to great lengths to conserve water and electricity.”

OUC’s Efficiency Delivered program includes irrigation repairs and 15 other eligible upgrades that help reduce a homeowner’s water and/or energy consumption. Call 407-423-9018 to get started. OUC also offers warranty programs and a list of preferred contractors that perform a variety of services.