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Smart Water Meters

Council has received some questions in relation to the role-out of the Smart Metering project and as part of the ongoing communication seeks to address some of these questions and provide additional information to residents.

This project is a component of a larger program aimed at reducing non-revenue water. Non-revenue water is water that has been treated and is then lost from the network infrastructure, through either unbilled (authorised) consumption, apparent losses (unauthorised consumption – water theft, meter inaccuracies) and real losses (leakage). This project seeks to address meter inaccuracies to reduce to the amount non-revenue water which currently equates to between 30 – 36% of the amount of water that Council purchases and treats. Our target is to reduce this below 15% over the coming years.

With improved meter accuracy comes the potential for increased bills. Because of the age of the meters we expect there is a high number of meters that are incorrectly registering. When these types of meters fail they will read less rather than more, so when your new meter is installed some residents may see a slight increase in their usage whilst others may see a significant rise. Council is mindful of the potential impact on the residential bill and proposed options to minimise potential bill shock will be presented to Council for adoption at the June Council Meeting.

The new system is considered a best practice tool which will help Council deliver water services to the community as cost-effectively as possible. The customer portal is expected to create greater sense of community awareness and responsibility towards the use of water.

The ‘real-time’ readings at properties means that Council and residents can regularly review water use and monitor for any indication of a leak, leading to cost savings for residents in relation to excess water charges. There is no direct cost to residents associated with the installation of the meter at properties or for access to the customer portal. The Smart Meter project is being funded through Council’s Water Fund, and will not result in any increase in water rates for residents.

The automatic meter reading or AMR devices are being used more frequently throughout Australia. Other councils who have implemented Smart Metering report that they have been able to identify customer leaks within the first weeks of the meters being installed, not only saving water but reducing the cost to residents. Federation Council, located in the Riverina region of New South Wales, reported in its first weeks of operation almost 200 leak notices were delivered to households and businesses notifying of a potential problem.

A common question asked is how do the meters detect leaks? Smart meters have the ability to collect and send data every 7 seconds. Over a 24 hour period it is expected that there should be a period where the meter reads zero consumption. When the system detects that a zero reading has not been recorded it sends a notification that a problem may exist. Below is Case Study example of leak detection using smart metering.