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Digital Metering - What's the Value?

The first in-person event for the Victorian branch since the start of the year was a discussion on digital metering. Ahead of its larger-scale rollout, the event was a great opportunity to learn more about the topic, as well as to network with the capacity crowd. 

Many utilities have been testing meters for almost a decade, and the technology has matured considerably over this time. Yarra Valley Water has the MATES (Meter Acceptance TESting) wall for testing digital meters and has conducted large-scale tests in South Vermont, and South East Water has installed over 30,000 meters. Victorian customers have had the option to opt-out, yet less than 1% have dropped out of the program.

The early results have saved millions of dollars of water by pinpointing leaks and fixing them. Some suburbs have seen non-revenue water drop from 20% to 5%. Typically, 7% of customers have a leak on their property, which would save them $150 off their next water bill if fixed.  

The data that digital meters generate will aid customers and utilities in managing their systems better. The data is so rich that it enables utilities in some circumstances to suggest customer leaks might be associated with their solar water heating systems.

Asking customers to reduce their water to 155L/day and not telling customers their usage until the bill arrives every three months does not help customers understand their usage better. Customers with digital meters can now get daily data and alerts of unusually high usage or low usage. In a regional setting, low usage can mean the lack of supply to stock, causing major animal health concerns. 

Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water was the first water utility in Australia to put their digital meter SCADA data into the cloud. Better access to this data has brought huge benefits across GWM Water's distributed customer base.  

Key takeaways from the session were:  

  • If you don't have the data, you don't know where the value is in the system.  
  • Digital meters will drive better decision making  
  • Use data, not capital, to fix problems  
  • Don't be afraid of digital meters  
  • Don't lock into a system too early; you need flexibility and interoperability  
  • Suez has installed over 6 million meters globally  
  • The meter is not a cash register; it enables engagement with customers and drives value  
  • It's great to network again!  

We thank our expert panel of water leaders, including:  

  • Lara Olsen, Managing Director, South East Water  
  • Mark Williams, Managing Director, GWMWater  
  • Chris Andrews, Principal, Asset Management and Performance, Aurecon  
  • Glenn Wilson, General Manager Service Futures, Yarra Valley Water  

Thanks also to our sponsors IOTA and Suez.