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NRDC Seeks to Curb Leaky Faucets With Stricter Water-Meter Rules

More accurate meters would help U.S. homeowners save some of the trillion gallons (3.8 trillion liters) of water that’s lost annually to leaks, according to a group of water utilities and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The NRDC and the utilities asked the American Water Works Association, the industry’s largest trade group, to revise accuracy standards for residential meters, according to an e-mailed statement today.

Water meters commonly installed on new single-family homes detect flows down to a quarter-gallon a minute, or 360 gallons a day. More than 10 percent of U.S. homes have leaks of 90 gallons a day or more, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Many of those leaks won’t be spotted by typical meters.

“The costs for leaks not captured by meters are passed on to all customers and result in higher rates and more frequent rate increases,” Tracy Quinn, an NRDC water-policy analyst, said in the statement. “Stronger accuracy standards will lead to the widespread installation of more accurate meters, and major water savings will follow.”

More accurate meters would detect extended periods of low water flow, often a tell-tale sign of leaks, said the NRDC, a New York-based environmental group. Dripping faucets, running toilets or leaky lawn-irrigation systems sometimes run for days or months at levels that aren’t noticed by current meters.

The utilities involved include American Water Works Co., the largest publicly traded U.S. water company, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and municipal water utilities in Texas and California.

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