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Can city water meters be hacked?

Letter-to-the-Editor-698x408

By

Editor, Index-Tribune:

As a concerned Sonoman and WaterWise member, I have been following the coverage on water issues in the city, county and state as featured in the Index-Tribune over the past few months. In response to that, I would like to share some thoughts and information with you.

Recently, the following websites searched on Google were brought to my attention:

“Water meters are easier to hack than they should be.”

“Neptune meters are easier to hack.”

There is a ton of information on both, however, I only extracted three pieces, which are eye-openers.

In general, computerized meter systems make hacking remarkably easy, compromise customer confidentiality and privacy through unencrypted transmissions, can have a negative impact, raising rates due to “water theft,” and come with a myriad of other problems.

While these meters may make leak detection easier, they are also subject to signal interference from cell phones and other devices. That may explain the usage spikes I had, or even those of Moira Watts and others in town. How are cities planning to address customer refunds for water reported but not used? What is Sonoma doing specifically?

Unfortunately, I do not share your confidence in the Neptune meters and would encourage Sonoma to be more aware of the issues associated with them. Apparently, California is running ahead of all states with the installation of computerized meters, and not taking the time to understand their pitfalls and problems. Who ends up on the short end of the stick? The paying customer.

I also find Sonoma’s stated conservation goals in conflict with practice. While the average person is trying to be judicious with their water usage, the city apparently still approves the building and filling of new private pools. Why not a moratorium during the drought? How can this situation inspire one to do the right thing?

Maria Lobanovsky

Sonoma