Landlord Lisha Li was totally in the dark as the water dripped-dripped-dripped deep below a home she rents out in College Point, Queens.
But a little grey box around the side of the home was silently sending messages, and those messages prompted an appreciated call to Li's phone.
"They said, 'Miss Li, we've been tracking all the meters, and we found very abnormal high usage in one of your properties,’” recalled Li.
That high usage was going to cost her $100 a day instead of the normal $8.
Li got a plumber, and on Monday, offered up praise to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a new tracking system from the city's Department of Environmental Protection.
"Weeks or months of undetected leaks can result in hundreds or even thousands of dollars, basically, if you pardon the pun, going down the drain for homeowners,” said the mayor.
Homeowners don't have to do anything special to get called if there's a problem. If you want an email alert, call 311.
The DEP is about three-quarters of the way toward installing the wireless sensors citywide. It credits the gizmos with allowing New Yorkers to track their water usage, and the cost, in real time – and more accurately than before.
But Councilman Mark Weprin complains that accuracy should mean paying less for water. Instead, water rates have more than doubled since Bloomberg took office.
"They're making more money than they initially anticipated and rates should be reflecting that,” said the councilman.
Officials say much of the increase is driven by federally-required improvements.