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1 November, 2023

Smart water devices provide essential upgrade

By Andrew Tarry - Local Government Reporter

With the event of rain a scarcity over the next few months, the council are pushing on with the implementation of smart water meters around the shire. The plan to phase out the old water meters has been a process which started in 2015/16. The new smart meters are compatible with smart technology. 

 This brings a level of sophistication to the water utility provided by the council with instantaneous monitoring, remote readings, leak detection and the ability to pick up unusual consumption benefits from the new technology. Previously water meters would be assessed twice a year by an employee of the council. The meter reading process would generally take up to three weeks to complete while contending with animals, difficult meter locations, and other potential logistical problems and health risks.

It is believed that remote readings will introduce efficiencies by minimising this “laborious task”, according to the council meeting papers. There are benefits for the community as well. Smart water meters can change the way water charges are invoiced. Charges can be applied more regularly and can be smaller making it easier to manage than half yearly bills. The smart water reading technology also provides live data of the usage and condition of the water utility infrastructure, helping with leak detection at earlier stages instead of when the reader is read manually. 

This might also help with reducing unnecessary water loss. In advanced uses of the technology where the utility has been integrated with highly sophisticated versions of the software and smart readers, network demand management, customised data queries for customers and the capability to map non-revenue losses are all available. Within the shire, including Tooraweenah, there are approximately 1400 assessments that are connected to a town supply and require water meters to be fitted. 

Since the beginning of the program in 2015/16 there are now around 200 meters that remain to be changed over. The council are saying that with the installation of the meter replacements nearing its completion, the council are turning its attention to “procuring the sup- porting software and ancillary systems.” 

To achieve this the council have included a budget of $500,000 in the Long-Term Financial Plan for the next two to cover the cost. Although an expensive undertaking, the potential long term financial savings for the council and the community is an important investment. Should the smart readers be more efficient than the previous technology along with the benefit of specific data on usage and leaks, then the potential water saving benefit is essential.

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