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Water Meter Issue

12/19/2012 9:29 PM

I live in Brooklyn, NY and since the city installed the new electronic meters, bills have gone up to the point where they say I am using around 1,000 gallons of water a day. I live with my wife and teenage son, so 1,000 gallons a day seems just a tad extreme.

I decided to try an experiment. I turned off the water supply where it comes into the house before the meter. I then looked at the meter. The meter was still turning showing a flow of water. Is this at all possible? Any ideas?

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#1

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/19/2012 10:02 PM

Possibly, your shut off is defective. Try turning off the house side valve. In either case open a faucett to check for flow. If you are showing no flow, Open supply valves again and check every point of use. Turn them off one at a time. If you can't find a leak call a pro. Could be a failed line in a wall.

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#2

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/19/2012 10:05 PM

When you shut off the street side of the meter you should be stopping any flow through it, but sometimes the shutoff valve doesn't close tightly. There should also be a shutoff on the house side of the meter, close it as well, if the meter is still registering call the DEP and report a faulty meter.

Don't wait to call and document all your conversations, they'll hold you liable for the full amount until they are convinced the meter is registering incorrectly.

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#3

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/19/2012 10:05 PM

Sounds like you have a leak, probably a good time to call in a plumber to trace and fix it.

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/19/2012 10:36 PM

If the meter is accurate, then a sink hole should very soon follow.

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/19/2012 11:09 PM

This increase in usage has only shown up since the installation of the new electronic meters. If i was leaking as much water as the dep says, then my basement would have been flooded to the ceilings and we would have to have heard something. However as I've stated this is only since the installation of the new meter.

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/20/2012 1:43 AM

If its not a leak it could be the meter but most likly it a leak. Close the supply valve to the house and watch.

If it is stopping you have a leak. Where ever this is it still might not be noticable other than with a meter. With a sandy underground you could leak 2000 gallons a day without notice.

Make the call for the plumber!

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#35
In reply to #5

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/21/2012 12:06 PM

I agree with you on the fact that if you had a leak, you would see some evidence of water somewhere. The meter supposedly only measures what passes through it. If you have a leak upstream of the meter it will not register it. I am assuming that the meter is inside the house.

I would do a thorough audit of everything in the house that uses water. Confirm that you are not bleeding water some where. Some times when you disturb plumbing, such as the meter change out, scale can be knocked lose and goes downstream and gets into a valve seat.

Another idea is to talk to your neighbours and compare consumption for similar house holds and see if your bill is the only one that stands out.

Good luck

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#15
In reply to #3

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/20/2012 3:01 PM

If the OP contacts the plumber, he becomes liable for the plumber's costs, no matter who owns the defective part.

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#17
In reply to #15

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/20/2012 3:31 PM

True, which is where post #13 comes in.

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#7

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/20/2012 4:07 AM

100-150 litres per person per day would be about right.

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#8

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/20/2012 6:18 AM
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#12
In reply to #8

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/20/2012 1:26 PM

GA for that. It would appear that (if the reports are accurate) the newly installed NYC electronic water meters are reading incorrectly and overcharging.

This looks like gross incompetence on the part of the manufacturer as these electronic meters should not be doing this and should have been tested and certified for accuracy. It isn't rocket science.

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#14
In reply to #12

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/20/2012 1:54 PM

Thanks. But I don't think it's the manufacturer.

The DEP states right here, that they intend to make a lot of money from the new meters......................................................one way or another.

http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/08/27/new-york-city-dep-water-meter-upgrade-could-net-millions-in-revenue/

Something stinks here:

http://consumerist.com/2012/04/19/womans-water-bill-goes-from-62-to-1400-will-cost-her-180-to-have-meter-inspected/

Extortion:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/10/nyregion/at-hearing-customers-complain-of-unfair-and-inaccurate-water-bills.html?_r=0

They have also been sending sewage bills to people that are on private septic.

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#16
In reply to #14

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/20/2012 3:30 PM

Oh I don't even want to know (it'll spoil my Christmas).

I will just assume incompetence and mistakes rather than something rather obviously more........sinister.

OK so I read the first article, because I thought I knew the answer, and was rewarded with this.

As these water meters age…they are under-recording the amount of water that is moving through the pipe

Perhaps it really is just the manufacturer and nothing more sinister.

Damn, I read the third article too.

"We issue over three million bills a year," Mr. Mahoney said. "No system is perfect, but we do believe we have a good system. We have an appeals process in place."

He has a point, but it sounds like it could have been handled better.

Hopefully a111158 will get a successful explanation and resolution to the problem and can give us a first-hand account rather than us relying on the media (which should NEVER be trusted entirely).

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#27
In reply to #16

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/21/2012 6:46 AM

Don't let it spoil your Christmas, but here's the way I believe it works.

It costs $180 to have the meter inspected by the city.--------------Free money.

Many people will not appeal the high bills. Just pay them.------------Free money.

The people that appeal will get their money back, but it will take a long time and lots of paper work. The city will slowly get them paid back----------Interest free loan.

I'm sure the meters are fine. In the end, it will likely be blamed on a software glitch in the billing dept, and that all customers were not affected.

Merry Christmas.

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#38
In reply to #27

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/21/2012 4:26 PM

You are insufferably paranoid. Don't you trust your civil servant's altruism, and selfless dedication?!?

GA otherwise.

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#39
In reply to #38

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/21/2012 5:23 PM

Just because I'm paranoid, doesn't mean I'm wrong.

I also don't think it's a meter problem. I'm sure they were made to very exacting specifications and testing procedures. Nothing but the best.

Since NYC also has tax records, I wouldn't be surprised if this problem is occurring more frequently with businesses and individuals that make good money.

I wonder how many poor people are experiencing these sudden increases?

Talk about bad publicity.

It's just amazing. Water meters have been used for decades................all of a sudden, as cities are running out of money, badda bing-badda boom. New meters.

http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/03/01/water.bills.war/index.html

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#41
In reply to #16

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/21/2012 6:33 PM

Assume sinister! I worked on several civil engineering projects in NYC during the 80's including water and sewer repair and upgrades. Every contractor I spoke to about NYC's payment practices always bid an extra 10% on the assumption that they would never see the retainage.

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#9

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/20/2012 6:38 AM

Great post thanks for sharing

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#10

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/20/2012 7:14 AM

If you shut the water supply before the meter, and the meter continues turning, only two things can happen: A the valve is defective. B The meter is defective. In my country, under such situations the water supply company has to be called for them to see what is going wrong, as they are responsible for the meter and the valve located before the meter. In the meantime (just for curiosity) I would try to determine the volume the turning meter (defective or not) indicates. After having checked there is no water consumption (all faucets shut, no leaking toilet, etc) calculate the time you need to fill a bucket of a known volume with water. Compare how fast the meter turn when filling the bucket Vs. when idle. This will also give you an idea of where to search for a leak on broken pipe should the meter be ok: even a fraction of these 1,000 Gallons a day should be very easily found....

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#42
In reply to #10

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/21/2012 6:39 PM

There is one more thing to consider: If there is a leak near an old (think cracked) drain a leak could just run into the drain. I've seen this before.

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#11

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/20/2012 12:23 PM

Welcome to the site.

Be careful. In NYC, as in outer areas, the responsible party for plumbing repairs is dependant on a few things. Usually the meter location is the dividing point, but, if the new meter was moved there could be issues.

If you see meter movement with the valve in front of the meter off, and all household devices turned off, there would have to be two separate problems. 1) bad shut off valve, and 2)a household device also leaking, or a pipe leaking. If the city just installed the meter, they would have to have had the water shut off to do the install. If the valve worked for the install, it probably still works now. That would make the other option ( the defective meter ) seem more likely. Good luck.

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#13

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/20/2012 1:38 PM

I turned off the water supply where it comes into the house before the meter. I then looked at the meter. The meter was still turning showing a flow of water. Is this at all possible? Any ideas?

It appears from further examination of the evidence presented here on this thread (thanks kramarat) that there may be a software fault or hardware tolerance issue (causing an offset tricking the software into thinking there is a small constant flow) with some of the newly installed water meters causing them to electronically register water flow and bill for it when there isn't any.

At least that is what it appears to me.

Doesn't look like a plumber will help in this case, so I guess you need to talk with the water department or whoever is in charge of the water meters first and see what they say.

Please keep us updated as to what happens.

Jack - Only has experience with electronic power meters, but they are similar to water meters.

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#18

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/20/2012 4:03 PM

As others have already stated, the high rate of flow recorded by that water meter can result from:

A. A faulty meter, or B. A leak in the pipe that is occurring in the ground or in an exterior wall.

Try shutting off all valves on pipe branches and see it it continues. If the high rate subsides or is completely stopped, then you have a leak somewhere after the meter.

If NYC has been having a high degree of faulty meters lately, then ask the NYCDEP for a meter flow calibration check to ascertain it's accuracy. It should fall below the manufacturer's printed accuracy rating.

I don't know NYC's municipal law, but most municipalities in NYS they generally will not be responsible for repairs on water service lines (laterals) past the "curb stop" or the "Right-Of-Way", whichever comes last.....so beyond that it is the homeowner's responsibility to have the lateral repaired or replaced. That includes incurring the cost, which cannot be recovered from the municipality. Don't count on the homeowner's insurance carrier to cover a leak repair either unless you can fully demonstrate that the leak in occurring within the home....coverage starts right where the pipe passes through the exterior surface wall plane.

Do you know how old the meter is? Also, what the meter manufacturer and model # is? If you can provide the later then I can provide you the meter accuracy rating.

BTW, typically a city person shouldn't be using any greater than 100~150 gallons per capita per day, where there are old water fixture units (not water conserving fixtures). You daily consumption for the entire family should be less than 450~500 gpcd if you do not have a moderate to large leak. The water consumption numbers will vary from household to household...too many differing factors to list here. If you run the dishwasher, or washer, or take very long showers you will absolutely use more water.

What were the typical monthly water consumption volumes prior to the installation of the new water meter. If you can give me the total for 12 months, that would be a better number to determining the Average Daily water consumption over a year time period. Keep in mind people historically use more water during the summer months than in the other seasons.

CaptMoosie, PhD, NYS P.E.

(yes, water engineering is my business....)

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#19
In reply to #18

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/20/2012 9:33 PM

My water usage for the previous 10 years was about 400 gallons a day or less. After the new meter was installed they can report daily usage. Mine has ranged from a low of around 400 gallons to several days that were over 5000 gallons. The 5000 gallon days are not consecutive. How could a leak be that severe but then not always? Also, for the people following this, my water comes into my home in my basement, around a foot below the ceiling. It then goes to the meter and then back up to the ceiling. There are no water pipes underground after the water enters my home. I have had drain leaks in the walls and those became obvious very quickly and with much less than the thousands of gallons that some believe must be leaking here. To put it mildly, there are no leaks.

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#20
In reply to #19

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/20/2012 10:30 PM

Can you fit your own analogue meter on house side of 'their' meter? & nothing else between? Then you could video both meters as evidence, email to them - & post on the above mentioned blogs.

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#33
In reply to #19

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/21/2012 11:19 AM

This electronic meter...do you know the type of sensing? If this is acoustic (i.e. Doppler)...any motion in the pipe...even something weird like thermal differential could be significant enough to register as "fluid motion", and therefore appear at a count.

I think the best bet is as others have stated let NYC dep figure it all out, but I would also make sure the meter is installed away from (1) noisy vibrations like trains and garbage trucks, (2) out of the direct line of sunlight that could differentially warm the underside of the pipe relative to the top, or (provide acoustic/thermal insulation such as foam wrap to the pipe to isolate from weird environmental effects.

If the meter is still a mechanical meter with an electronic readout (so that meter readers can upload the meter while driving by), have NYC dep look for a meter offset (as others have stated), as I do not think you have a leak, although make sure no water fixture in the house sits and trickles. Again I would look for severe sources of vibration that might cause the turbine inside the meter to somehow move.

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#43
In reply to #19

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/21/2012 6:59 PM

Well.that probably lets out comment #42, but see #41! ;-{

As far as how a leak can vary, water carries minerals that can plug small leaks on an intermittent basis and an ounce and a half per minute is a small leak. After you have eliminated the possibility of a 'bad' meter, all you can do is start checking your pipes. If your house is old enough to have either brass or iron water pipes this is a highly probable cause.

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#21

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/20/2012 11:57 PM

I was a certified water supplier of water in NYS, and as a National average water used by the average of all water users in the USA is 61.5 gal. per person per day.

If your valve works properly, the water passing through should stop turning the spinner entirely.

It is the volume of water that makes the meter turn, via a nutating disc, so while 1000 gpd is a small leak in volume. The difference in the speed of the spinner would show a much slower speed with the valve off.

I would then look to where the meter is installed. Is it inside the home or in a meter pit on the property line outside? There will be a shut off on the outlet side of every meter pit, so you can turn off the water supply line leading to your residence. Shut that! If now it continues to turn the meter has to be leaking from the bottom plate. That should be the water company's problem. Everything on the house side of that valve, is very likely your concern, according to NYS Municipal laws.

With the valve you have shut down, you should be able to shut the flow down enough to double up on the valves inside your home. Use compression fittings (expensive) but there is no soldering involved if water is present and can with a bit of water be installed while water flow is present. Use a commercial ball/plug valve with compression fittings, Mueller makes them for this purpose.

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#22

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/21/2012 1:42 AM

What's the distance between the shutoff and the meter?

A toilet, or an underground pipe, or theft can gobble up water fast without visible water.

You do have to ascertain that the water is indeed off.

In my town, there is valve right after the meter, and right before the meter in the house. There is also a valve outside, accessible with a pentagon wrench and long water valve turn off thingy. The equipment can be borrowed from the water company. Cities have their own laws and may say that only the water company can turn it on and off, or only the water company can turn it on.

Leak, theft and/or shutoff doesn't work.

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#23
In reply to #22

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/21/2012 3:00 AM

Outside faucet and someone nabbing your water. Seen it bofore.

Any other party on the line that would show up on the meter?

Sounded like it was plumbed oddly.

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#24

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/21/2012 4:56 AM

My neighbour, a blacksmith, had an electronic meter installed in his workshop. Previous to that his consumption was 20 to 30 litres a day. the new meter registered thousands of litres. The outcome was the electronic meter was being tricked by all the iron around it, swapped back to mechanical, no further problem.

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#25

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/21/2012 5:01 AM

Shut the valve off and disconnect the pipe just after the meter. If there is no water and the meter is still turning, video the result. You then have two options; a) Send it to one of the many lawyers who will be preparing a class action over this. It might take a few years but you should get back all the overpayment racked up to date with that kind of evidence. b) Show the video to the water department and get them to change the meter. In this case you will have to negociate your own back payments but it will be a lot quicker, and you are still holding the threat of using it in a class action if they don't play ball.

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#34
In reply to #25

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/21/2012 11:51 AM

I like your test of removing the pipe from the output of the meter and watching the meter run without any water coming out the back end. Even to the technically illiterate, it would clearly and decisively show the problem.

Although I agree with your test, my actions afterward would differ. I would call in a local tv station and let them run with the story. I'm betting that your problem would be remedied the next day and that the next time you contacted the water company that they would rush over within the hour as they would not want any more of your negative publicity.

You have your problem fixed at not cost and you've also provided a community service.

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#26

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/21/2012 6:00 AM

Maybe the old meter was defective

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#28

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/21/2012 7:02 AM

If you shut off the main valve coming into your house (probably in the basement), but your meter obviously shouldn't move unless it is either faulty or you have a leak distal to the meter itself (as any leak before the meter should still not register on the meter so the possibility of a sink hole is probably non-existent). In the case of a leak, if it was in the plumbing itself you would have obvious puddles at some lowpoint in your house (again probably in the basement ) and you would have to follow the leak trail to its source) But that would be very noticable in most cases and I'm sure you would have checked for that at this point. But if there are areas downstairs you can't reach easily smell for dampness/mold/mildew which would be caused by constant water leak.The other leak could be at a faucet where the leak would be at a drain and wouldn't form a puddle. As I'm sure you've checked all you sinks/showers for leaks at this point the most likely point would be a toilet. Does your toilet cycle on w/o anyone using it? Or does it constantly run or do you have to "jiggle" the handle to get it to stop?

Therefore if you have no obvious puddles anywhere, if you do not have a device running like a sink/shower/toilet. If there aren't any areas of dampness from the meter to your "points of use" then you have a faulty meter. 1000 gallons of water use is a lot of water for a day so it would have to be a really bad leak and very noticable. And the water company has to make a profit to justify the expense of installing all these meters as they are expensive to purchase. So why not just over charge you to make up for their cost????????? And when you call them to report your overcharge make sure they go back and reinburse your previous over charges too.

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#29

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/21/2012 7:45 AM

Turn off the supply at the meter then open a tap in the house, this should tell you if the valve is working, If the water is still running then the valve is not working, but even if the valve isn't closing, with the taps in the house turned off the meter still shouldn't be moving, as some people have said it could be a leak, but it would have to be around 700 gallons a day which is one hell of a leak & I think you would spot it somewhere,No, a faulty meter is what you have, I would find a neighbour with the same set up as you,( wife & teenage son ) & see what their usage is, then contact the utilities and raise hell.

Bazzer.

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#32
In reply to #29

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/21/2012 9:39 AM

Turn off the supply at the meter then open a tap in the house,

GA

I couldn't believe no one had already suggested this.

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#46
In reply to #32

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/23/2012 12:46 AM

Take a look at the first few postings

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#47
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Re: Water Meter Issue

12/23/2012 6:16 AM

Yeh all right,but I never look at other comments before i add my view, this way it doesn't muddy the water & the more alike answeres the better the chance that there right.

Bazzer.

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#30

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/21/2012 8:57 AM

...and what did the "city" say when you called them about it?

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#31
In reply to #30

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/21/2012 9:20 AM

Please hold. Your call is important to us. Due to unusually high call volume, all of our representatives are busy helping other customers.

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#48
In reply to #30

Re: Water Meter Issue

01/02/2013 6:52 AM

My ship came in, I was on the wrong dock.

Bazzer

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#36

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/21/2012 1:28 PM

Actually a 1000 gallons a day is only about 1.5 fluid ounces a second. So if the leak was going directly down a drain there may not be any other tell tale signs. I would check that your toilets are not pouring a slow stream of water directly down the drain.

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#37

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/21/2012 1:35 PM

a swimming pool somewhere ?

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#40

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/21/2012 5:39 PM

It appears that a NYC based cottage industry has formed to fight this battle.

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#44
In reply to #40

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/22/2012 4:59 AM
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#45

Re: Water Meter Issue

12/22/2012 8:42 AM

It's your Reverse Osmosis filter. If you trust the quality of your water, disconnect your RO equipment.

This assumes you've already checked your toilets, etc.

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