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Water Submetering as a Solution to Billing in Shared Water Systems

Water billing in multi-dwelling units (MDUs) presents challenges. When occupants of a MDU rely on a shared water source, determining what comprises a fair share of a water bill can be nearly impossible.
Ratio Utility Billing Services (RUBS) are formulas that can help bill payers in a shared water system attempt to create fairness. RUBS use square footage or number of occupants of a unit to determine what portion of a water bill a person should pay.

RUBS are notoriously unfair: a retail complex in Colorado Springs used square footage to apportion the water bill to tenants. In that case, a gymnastics gym neighbors a coffee shop. Though the gym is outfitted with just three water supply lines, they paid significantly more for water than the coffee shop with a dozen water lines and nearly constant customer traffic, due to square footage being the established metric for water billing.

In this and other MDUs, submetering allows users to pay for their actual water usage by measuring water within a segment of a property (i.e., at the unit level). Traditional water submetering uses inline meters, which require professional installation and water shutoffs, and incur tremendous liability for the entity cutting into a building’s water supply.

Studies show that submetering water usage incentivizes users to conserve water, so it should be encouraged. When consumers gain insight into how much water they use, whether they have leaks in their system, and how waste can be avoided, they use up to 15% less water. Widespread water submetering across the US could save trillions of gallons of water annually.

Historically, a lack of availability of non-invasive, affordable, accurate water submeters has made implementation of submetering systems prohibitive to many property owners and managers. A new technology-driven solution, the patent-pending SimpleSUB Water system, uses calibrated ultrasonic sensors, a low power LTE cellular internet connection, and lithium battery to report accurate unit-level usage measurements to an integrated web application – all without invading a building’s plumbing system. For more information on the system’s utility and or to set up a trial period, contact