Water Journal : Water Journal November 2011
industry news regular features 18 NOVEMBER 2011 water Tasmania's Water Meter Installation Project on Track The largest roll-out of water meters in Australia in recent decades is on track for completion by mid-2012 in Tasmania. Southern Water, which is installing around 60,000 residential and commercial/industrial meters across southern Tasmania, began residential installations in April this year. The roll-out represents a major investment for Southern Water and underpins a legislated move to two-part pricing (fixed and variable tariffs) from July 2012. Southern Water believes that households in its region currently use around 375KL of water on average per annum. According to Southern Water's CEO, Mike Paine, a cost benefit analysis undertaken by Marchment Hill to assess the value of the $30 million residential project took into account the impact of water meters and the presence of pricing signals to bring water consumption to sustainable levels. The predicted reduction in water use across greater Hobart will help lower the costs of sourcing, treating and pumping water. The data collected through metering will also provide Southern Water with the means to identify and tackle water leakage in its networks. The project has already enabled Southern Water to defer expensive infrastructure projects and redesign others. While the high-profile project attracted some opposition before installations started, Southern Water's market research before, and field experience since, demonstrates a high level of acceptance by the community. "With local government elections underway in November, a big project which touches on almost every residence has provided a ripe subject for debate," Mr Paine said. "The greatest challenge has been convincing some of our customers of the need for meters, when they see abundant supplies of water in the Hobart region. Southern Water has implemented a comprehensive community relations program -- one of the largest conducted in Tasmania -- aimed at explaining the connection between water use, water prices and asset planning. "In reality, the experience in the field is that we are experiencing all the normal challenges expected of a major project of this size. This includes the issues which emerge when installing meters on ageing infrastructure on the customer side, and reinstatement issues. "The project has successfully reached installation rates of around 250 meters a day and head contractor, Skilltech Consulting, a UXC company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, has more than 120 personnel in the field recruited through local plumbing contractors," Mr Paine said. Southern Water is quality checking every installation. With residential installations reaching the half-way milestone, completion is expected by the deadline of mid-2012. Planning is also underway to install around 3,500 commercial and industrial water meters across the region. The next phase will be the upgrade or replacement of Southern Water's existing fleet of around 26,000 meters. The Elster 20mm V100 water meter with Waveflow Automated Meter Reading (AMR) technology has been selected for residential installations. This technology allows meters to be read from the street using a drive-by methodology -- a process which reduces the need for meter readers to enter properties. At a cost of $30 million, Southern Water's project is partially funded by a $5 million grant from the Australian Government's Water for the Future initiative through the National Water Security Plan for Cities and Towns Program. Southern Water's Customer Service Centre Manager, Ross Milner, out and about explaining the benefits of water meters and automated meter reading technology. Southern Water is quality checking all meter installations in its massive roll-out of around 60,000 water meters.
Water Journal December 2011
Water Journal September 2011