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City of St. Helena to offer instant rebates for Flume water monitors

The City of St. Helena will soon offer $100 instant rebates to water customers who buy Flume water monitors.

The City Council agreed Tuesday to cover half of the cost of the $200 devices, which attach to a water meter and allow customers to track their water use in real-time via smartphone.

Customers would buy the $200 devices directly from Flume for $100. Flume would then bill the city $100 for each device sold through the program.

The council agreed to set aside $20,000 for the program — enough to provide rebates for 200 Flumes.

Real-time data is a powerful way to change behavior, said City Councilmember Anna Chouteau.

“I like the idea of helping people get real-time data,” she said.

“This is an investment that will facilitate and encourage conservation,” said City Councilmember Lester Hardy.

Once the program is set up, rebates will be available retroactively to people who bought Flumes as far back as June 2020, when the city declared a Phase I water emergency.

Napa, Healdsburg and Marin County have teamed up with Flume to offer similar rebates.

Flumes estimate how much water is being used, but their readings don't exactly match the consumption recorded by the water meter. That's because water meters use a positive displacement method to measure water, whereas Flumes measure the magnetic field from the spinning meter, according to a city staff report.

St. Helena already offers rebates for toilet retrofits, smart irrigation controllers, greywater collection, rainwater harvesting, recirculating hot water pumps, and replacing grass with low-water use plants or permeable hardscape.

The city is also investigating how to reward people who conserve water during the ongoing Phase II water emergency.

Napa water deliveries

In other water news, the cities of St. Helena and Napa have struck a deal on water deliveries from Napa to St. Helena.

The two cities have a contract requiring St. Helena to pay for 600 acre-feet of Napa water annually. St. Helena needs that water more than ever right now, but during the water year that ended in June, St. Helena diverted only 486 of the available 600 acre-feet.

Instead of being billed for more water than it actually received, the new deal will allow St. Helena to buy the remaining 114 acre-feet over the next three to five years. St. Helena will be able to collect no more than 40 acre-feet of the additional water during any one fiscal year so as not to overburden Napa’s water system.

Recycled water is becoming a hot commodity amid the drought. Here's where it all starts.

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You can reach Jesse Duarte at 967-6803 or jduarte@sthelenastar.com.

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