Opening water meter cover

The smart water meter project will deliver a Region-wide network of customer water meters that automatically collect water usage figures on a regular basis. This collected data will be provided to Council systems to maintain the current six-monthly billing cycle and to better manage the water network. It will also provide updates on water usage directly to the customer for their convenience.

$2.35 million has been allocated to this multi-stage project in 2021/22.

 

Stages

2020 - Planning

2021 - System procurement and early adopter installation

2022 - Round one installations

2023 - Round two installations

2024 - Round three installations and project close.

Start date

August 2020.

Target completion date

2024.

 

Frequently asked questions

About the meters

Smart meters collect the same data that existing meters provide with the added benefit of time-stamped readings that can be automatically collected. This can help Council and residents detect leaks and high water consumption before the bill comes.

The current manual meter read occurs every six months, subject to access to the meter. By moving to automated meter reading, both Council and residents will be able to monitor more closely their water usage. The potential benefit of having more available data is that residents won’t be exposed to bill shock. Proactive residents can review data and see what activities around the property are high water consumption activities. If properties have an underground leak, early detection can be achieved.

Yes, across the country there are a number of Councils using the various technologies to record water meter data. It is important to recognise that each Council has its own unique requirements and environmental conditions which determine which technology is best suited for their local community.

No, the meter replacement program is system-wide to allow for advanced analytics across the entire water network. This helps Council to operate a more efficient network and assist in the early detection of leaks and breaks. It is essential that all points out of the system are monitored.

There are a number of technology options available in the market today. Council will undertake a detailed technical evaluation of all the various technologies presented and determine which is the most cost-effective for the community and Council requirements.

At this stage, the network communication method has not been predetermined. Council services a broad range of communities in rural and remote regions where potential communication blackspots exist. The solution required to meet Council’s minimum specification could be a single technology or a combination of private and/or public communication infrastructure.

There are a number of technologies in the market that use the various frequency spectrums. Until all submissions have been reviewed, we will not know where additional towers will be installed if at all. Some solutions use existing commercially available networks or private radio tower infrastructure and Council’s existing tower locations will also be considered.

Depending on the successful supplier, the meter should be very similar in size to the existing meters.

The same as what currently happens. It stops working and you’re out of water until it is repaired by a Council representative.



About access to the meter data

Yes, the technical requirement is to have a web portal and/or app to allow residents to have easy access to their water data.

We are working towards making it as easy for people to securely access their own data without the need for any training.

Then nothing changes from your perspective. You will receive an update from Council regarding your water use every six months with your bill as you do now.

No, similar to your rates data and personal information at Council, all data is secured and stored in Australia under our data sovereignty laws.

No, the data is stored specifically for Council to undertake its own data analysis to improve asset performance.



About the costs

The full cost to implement will not be known until a technical assessment has been undertaken during the tender process. Preliminary estimates undertaken by our consultants estimate the project to cost between $8 million and $15 million under assumed conditions. Council’s 2020/21 capital program has approved $2 million for stage one. Full rollout is expected to be completed by the 2024/25 financial year.

The reading of the meter itself will be a more efficient process. However, consumption will remain up to each resident. What the data will provide is more current information on how we use our water and hopefully help change the way we use the resource. If we are better informed on how we use our water, there is evidence to support that consumption does slightly reduce due to behaviour.



About the project

A representative number of water users from every town water system will be included in the first round of early adopters. These will include residential and commercial customers, large and small water users. Additionally, an expression of interest for others who wish to volunteer as an early adopter will be carried out. It is essential that the full range of the network is tested from end to end.

Subject to the preferred vendor and the requirements of their network solution, installations will commence in the third and fourth quarters of 2021.

Yes, Council will offer an expression of interest to invite a sample group of early adopters.

Smart meters have been installed across the country for almost two decades. It is only now with improved battery reliability and communication networks that Council believes the benefits of smart metering provide an acceptable return on investment. The proof of concept is the first stage to full implementation while allowing for milestone checks of the original contract before proceeding to full implementation.

No, under the Water Act, as with all current works on residential infrastructure, residents will be provided with a minimum of two days’ notice of a meter replacement. For long-term residents who have had their existing meter replaced, this process is identical.

Subject to the successful suppliers and their capacity to install the meters, it is expected to take between three to four years to complete all meters.

The installation of water meters will be required to be undertaken by licensed plumbers. With more than 64,000 units to install, it will take time.