Archive for February, 2017

How Can I Lower My Water Bill?

February 21, 2017

According to the EPA website “…landscape irrigation is estimated to account for nearly one-third of all residential water use…”,  so it would seem that a good place to start conserving water would be the lawn.  There are numerous articles on the topic; here’s one from the Huffington Post. And this Atlantic article says lawns “have now outlived their purpose.”  So, let’s find out…

How much am I spending to water my lawn?


Everyone’s usage is different, but if you use 4,000 gallons per month for lawn irrigation, today you will pay Pluris approximately $26 (you can calculate your personal water usage or use this estimator).  After we are connected to the sewer an additional $30 will be added for a monthly charge of $56 just for the lawn!  One of our N3 neighbors recently took this approach: get rid of the grass.

What is xeriscape?

Xeriscaping is landscaping that reduces or eliminates the need for water from irrigation.  This type of landscaping has become popular in drought-stricken western states in the last few years and while we haven’t gotten to a West Coast level of crisis (yet), you can see that water is becoming expensive. So, what to do?


Allison Werner, our neighbor at 3340 Tanglewood Dr, recently had her yard professionally xeriscaped (click here): (1) removed all turf grass, (2) put down heavy-duty weed barrier, (3) covered with washed shell, (4) installed low maintenance, drought tolerant plants with drip irrigation. Drive by and take a look… a complete yard make-over may not be for everyone, but anything you can do will save you money on your water bill, not to mention fertilizer, pesticides, fungicides, gas and oil for lawnmowers, etc

Pluris south gate water rates

The monthly base charge is $7.18 plus $ per 1000 gallons:

  • 0 to 6,000 – $5.70
  • 6001 to 12,000 – $6.48
  • 12,000 and up – $7.52

( complete schedule of charges: pluris-water-rates)


 Informational links


A Conversation with Pluris

February 8, 2017


I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Joe Kuhns and Garth Armstrong regarding issues associated with our water provider, Pluris Southgate, Inc.  Joe is the Regional Manager and Garth is Project Manager for Pluris USA.  Both of these guys have been with Pluris for a number of years and were able to provide information of value to us as water users.

Selection of meters

The “smart” meter used here in N3 (and the rest of Southgate) is the Sensus iPERL.  While this particular meter is considered to be one of the best in the industry, it has not been without problems. The problem that has been most widely reported is that of leaking seals. Water intrusion into the electronics of the meter causes data corruption and wildly erroneous readings. Sensus has been responsive in addressing this issue and has taken steps to fix the problems as they became known (see Archer, FL).  The folks at Pluris were aware of the situation and took extra care to assure that the meters installed in our system had the problem corrected.

What is AMI?

Automated Meter Infrastructure is a system of (1) “smart” meters, (2) an AMI system server, and (3) data management.  Data (meter readings) is collected at the meter and is transmitted via an RF signal to a communication antennae.  The data is then transmitted to the utility (in our case Pluris) where it is used for, among other things, billing and feedback to us individually via the internet to a personal web portal.



New Web Portal

The final phase of the Pluris AMI platform will be the new personal web portal that each customer can access on the Pluris website.  This new feature should be available to us in two to three months and will provide features that include:

  • timely leak alerts
  • monitoring personal water usage
  • setting personal use threshold alerts

(refer to the letter in your last month’s bill or scroll down to the Jan 24th post)

Problems in N3?

Tom Lyons recently reported on four “nightmare” water bills: one was in Charlotte County, one in Sarasota County, and two in the City of Sarasota.  None were in N3 or in Pluris Southgate service territory.  So, did Pluris do a great job of selecting and installing our “smart” meters… or have we just been lucky?  Or maybe some of both. A few readers have reported higher than usual water bills, but none experienced the huge spikes that are typical of malfunctioning electronic meters (there’s a reason your bill may be higher even though you’re using the same amount of water… more on that later).

The true long-term test of these meters is time. Will the redesigned seals still be good in 2 years? 3 years?  We’ll see. The longer they are in service without problems, the more confidence we’ll have. In the meantime it will behove us all to pay attention to our water usage and look for ways to conserve.  The new web portal will be a good tool and there’s lots of information from credible websites. I’ll post what I find on that and some ways we can monitor our individual in-home usage.