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Schools lend hand in digital trial

South-East Queensland utility Unitywater is taking an innovative approach to its digital technology trial, installing smart water meters in local schools.

As part of its digital neighbourhood program, the utility will roll out 10,000 smart meters across the Sunshine Coast, including at 30 schools.

The devices log and transmit water usage data wirelessly, which will help customers to detect pipe leaks or other changes to water usage early.

“Schools are significant water users, so testing the technology on them will provide us with some really detailed insights, before we implement it for all our customers,” said Katherine Gee, Unitywater Executive Manager Customer and Community.

“The data obtained from smart water meters will, in time, give customers a more detailed understanding of their water usage and help them spot hidden water leaks around their homes.

“Smart water meters will also give Unitywater access to real-time information about the water network that will improve our understanding of water consumption patterns for different suburbs and help us to respond to issues quicker.”

One of the participating schools is Immanuel Lutheran College in Buderim. Principal Colin Minke said the program will build on a school-wide program focused on sustainability and water conservation.

“Some of the water-saving initiatives already in place at Immanuel include the majority of student toilets supplied with tank water, which is captured off the roofs of buildings,” said Minke.

“We have timer taps or sensor taps installed in hand-washing areas, traditional bubblers are being replaced with bottle filling stations, and all new tapware must fit the water saving criteria.

“The college irrigates sporting fields and play areas with water from nearby dams rather than using mains water.”

South-East Queensland is continuing to experience dam capacity levels around 50% and water conservation has been a major priority for Unitywater. Other programs include drought data loggers, which are installed at 20 schools to help monitor water use.