Smart Water Meters
Tamworth Regional Council’s latest investment to enhance water sustainability across the local community involves the installation of new smart water meters.
The rollout begins early March in Manilla & Barraba, and be installed throughout the region until late 2023. In total, over 21,000 mechanical water meters will be replaced with new smart water meters through a $6.5M investment by Council.
What are Smart Water Meters?
Smart water meters measure water usage and are fitted with low-powered radio transmitters to provide accurate near real-time water usage readings, improving the accuracy of water bills, detect possible leaks, promote better water management and improve customer service.
Why is Council upgrading the existing fleet of water meters?
Council currently uses mechanical water meters which relies on manual readers to capture consumption data. This approach is manually intensive and relatively inefficient.
Smart Water Meter rollout
Existing residential and commercial mechanical water meters will be replaced or retrofitted with a low-powered transmitter. The new installations will link remotely to a private network which will send near real-time water usage information securely to a Council data management system.
When will the rollout start?
Council has engaged Taggle Systems and their subcontractors Data Right for the rollout of smart water meters in the Tamworth region.
Installers will carry identification with them when working to confirm they are authorised to do the work on behalf of Council.
Installation will be carried out in stages from the beginning of March 2023 to December 2023. Installers will be working weekdays and weekends between 7am and 6pm.
If you have a dog or foresee any challenges in regard to access, please contact Data Right on 07 4968 3173 to arrange a suitable time.
Installers will notify residents 1-2 weeks before scheduled install via mail, the following is a guide, installation times are subject to change:
|| INSTALLATION (2023)
| Zone 1
|| Barraba & Manilla
|| 3 March - 18 April*
| Zone 2
|| Attunga, Bendemeer, Moonbi, Kootingal & Nundle
|| 20 April - 4 May*
| Zone 3,4 & 5
|| South Tamworth & Calala
|| 8 May - 5 June*
| Zone 6 & 7
|| Hillvue & Kingswood
|| 7 June - 6 July*
| Zone 8
|| West Tamworth
|| 10 July - 21 July*
| Zone 9
|| Taminda & Westdale
|| 25 July - 7 August*
| Zone 10
|| East Tamworth
|| 9 August - 22 August*
| Zone 11
|| South East Tamworth & Nemingha
|| 24 August - 6 September*
| Zone 12
|| North Tamworth
|| 8 September - 21 September*
| Zone 13
|| Oxley Vale & Moore Creek
|| 25 September - 9 October*
| Zone 14 & 15
|| CBD and commercial meters**
|| March - November*
*Installation times are subject to change.
**CBD and commercial meters will be installed throughout the year, owners will be contacted to arrange suitable times to minimise impact on business.
What happens during installation?
When your meter is upgraded to a smart water meter your water supply should only be interrupted for between 10 and 20 minutes. For meters not being replaced, a retrofit device will be installed with no disruption to supply.
Installers will take care to minimise disruption to the area surrounding the meter and they will be taking photos of the meter works during the installation to document:
- The old meter reading (including the serial number) at the time of disconnection
- The new serial number and initial reading
- The new meter in situ
Immediately after installation your water may be discoloured, or air pockets may have formed in the line causing the water to sputter. If this happens, please run each tap on your property for approximately 30 seconds or until the water becomes clear or stops sputtering.
What do I need to do?
Please ensure your existing water meter is cleared of all vegetation and obstructions to allow the contractors a safe working environment (ideally 1.2 – 1.5m on all sides of the water meter). This includes removing homemade covers (car tyres, metal boxes etc.) and discarding of these appropriately.
Note: If you require a new specialised cover for your new smart water meter, please contact Council, tyres and other covers are not ideal and can be a hazard.
Dogs and Locked Gates
As many meters are located within fence boundaries, installers need access to do the work. If you have a dog which is usually in the garden, or you have a locked gate, please contact Data Right on 07 4968 3173 to arrange a suitable time for the installation of your meter during the works period.
Should installers encounter a property they cannot get access to, Tamworth Regional Council will follow up with the property owner to arrange access.
What if I’m doing the dishes or shampooing my hair?
We do not want to catch people out, so the installers check first:
- They will knock on the door to confirm with the resident if it is ok to change the meter at that time. If not, an alternative day/time will be agreed;
- If no one’s home, and there’s no water running through the meter, they will complete the installation;
- If no one answers the door, but there’s water running through the meter, installers will leave a note and revisit on another day at another time;
- When a smart meter is installed, a flyer will be left in the mailbox or at the premises.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Smart Water Meter?
Smart water meters measure water usage and are fitted with radio transmitters to provide accurate real-time water usage readings, improving the accuracy of water bills, detect possible leaks, promote better water management and improve customer service.
Why am I getting a Smart Water Meter?
Council currently uses an aging fleet of mechanical water meters which relies on manual readers to capture consumption data. This approach is manually intensive and relatively inefficient. As a large number of the mechanical meters are due for replacement, this is an opportunity to consider digital technology to automate meter reading. Smart metering systems have the potential to revolutionise current water service operations and many other councils are already reaping the benefits of providing customers with the extra services that smart metering offers. The change to smart water meters will streamline the meter reading process and offer opportunities for system improvements to create efficiencies and cost savings. The smart water meter usage data will assist Council in the management of the water network and guide planning decisions for upgrades to the water network.
What do I need to do?
Please ensure your existing water meter is cleared of all vegetation and obstructions to allow the contractors a safe working environment (ideally 1.2 – 1.5m on all sides of the water meter). This includes removing homemade covers (car tyres, metal boxes etc.) and discarding of these appropriately. If you have a dog which is usually in the yard, or you have a locked gate, please contact Data Right on 07 4968 3173 to arrange a suitable time for the installation of your new smart water meter.
How do I read my Smart Water Meter?
Council will be launching an online portal to read your water usage in near real-time later in October 2023.
You can still manually read your meter too.
Top line displays Kilolitres. Reading shown is 8 m3 which is equivalent to 8 kilolitres (8,000 litres). Water consumption is charged per kilolitre.
Bottom line displays litres. Reading shown is 329.70 litres. This line goes back to zero once 1000litres is reached, and 1kilolitre is than added to the top line.
So this reader is showing a total consumption of 8329.7litres (8 kiloitres (8000 litres) showing on top line, and 329.7 litres showing on bottom line).
You can check your property for leaks by ensuring no water is being is used within your property. Check your meter and if the bottom numbers are increasing you may have a leak.
How do Smart Water Meters work?
The smart water meter device detects the water meter dial rotating and transmits the current water meter reading as a small radio signal. The information is then stored in a secure database managed by Tamworth Regional Council.
How strong is the radio signal?
The radio signal transmitted by the smart meter is very small – it is about 30 times weaker than the signal transmitted by a mobile phone.
How does the device get power?
The smart meter device is powered by a small battery. All the power used by the device comes from the battery.
Who is installing it?
Taggle Systems (and their sub-contractor Data Right) has been selected through a formal tender process and will work with Tamworth Regional Council to deliver this high-quality, innovative technology to residents and businesses across the local government area. An authorised contractor from Taggle or Data Right will be installing the devices. They will have identification on their persons. They will be knocking on the door in attempt to notify the customer of the installation and they will leave a flyer in the mailbox or at the premises once installation is complete.
How long will the install take?
The install will take between 10 and 20 minutes depending on the location of the meter.
CBD and commercial meters will take longer to install, owners will be contacted regarding a suitable time to replace these meters to minimise
Will my water be interrupted while install occurs?
Yes, you will experience a short interruption to your water supply whilst the new meter is installed, installation only takes 10-20 minutes.
Following the installation of a new smart meter, there may be a build-up of air in the properties water pipes. When residents first fun a tap, this air will be pushed out and may cause a popping and spluttering effect in the tap. This is perfectly normal and will pass within 30 - 60 seconds. This can be expected from all taps in and outside the house.
Will this affect my billing?
If you have been receiving water usage notices from Tamworth Regional Council, then you will continue to receive quarterly notices and any usage would reflect usage recorded on the old meter when removed and the usage on the new smart meter accurate to the day of the notice being issued.
Failed or failing water meters: Council has made a conscious decision to defer the replacement of failed or failing water meters until the system-wide planned replacement of the water meter fleet. If you haven’t been receiving water notices for usage from Tamworth Regional Council, after the installation of the new smart water meter, you will again start to receive quarterly water usage notices. Please note there will be no retrospective charging of water consumption for any failed or failing water meters. Any new charges will be recorded by the new smart water meters once they are installed.
What will my water data be used for?
Initially your water meter data will be used by Council to identify any hidden leaks to which you will be notified if any are found. On average 10% of homes and businesses have concealed leaks they are not aware of despite best efforts to save water.
Council will use the water usage data for water billing purposes, the data can also be used to identify properties that breach water restrictions and if necessary, fines can be issued from this data.
Will smart water meters be used to fine property owners for water restriction breaches?
Smart water meters provide an expansive number of water demand opportunities in the future. Water restrictions as we have known in the past are likely to look very different in the future thanks to the options available to us through smart metering. It should be noted that smart meters will provide time-stamped data usage that if required, could be used for regulatory purposes.
Who is responsible for the maintenance of the device?
If you notice that your meter or device is damaged or in need of maintenance please contact Council’s customer service team on 6767 5555.
Does it cost me any extra money?
The cost of deploying smart meters will be funded by Council’s water meter replacement program.
How can I monitor my data?
Council will be launching an online portal for residents to monitor their water consumption, it will be available in October 2023.
How do I know if I have a leak?
Once you have registered on the water portal you will be able to set alerts for high water usage and leaks. From the home page menu select “Alerts” then select “Manage Alerts”. You will see a list of options which you can customise to monitor your own water usage.
When the water consumption or leak reaches the threshold you have chosen, you will receive either an SMS or Email.
What should I do if I have a leak?
If you have been alerted of a leak at your property through the water portal, you should try to locate the leak as soon as possible. Some common leaks could be taps, showers, toilets, evaporative air conditioning, irrigation systems and rain water tanks that are connected to town water.
You may be able to repair the leak yourself or if you cannot find or fix the leak yourself, you may need to engage a plumber.
If you have a significant leak you are able to turn off the water supply to your property by turning off the tap at your water meter which is usually at the front of your property. This will assist in reducing wasted water or any potential damage to your property until the leak can be repaired.
What do I do if my water meter or smart meter device is damaged?
Generally the device will automatically send an alert to Council if a defect is detected.
If you notice that your meter or device is damaged or in need of maintenance please contact Council’s customer experience centre on 6767 5555.
Can I still use the meter cover that I have now on my water meter?
Only all plastic meters covers can be used with smart meters. Covers with or constructed of metal present a risk to the installation and property owners.
My property experiences heavy frosts which freezes my water service. What can I do about this if I can't use my old meter cover?
The new meters are constructed to prevent frost/freezing of the meter assembly. A additional plastic meter cover can be purchased from Council that protects not only the meter but the inlet and outlet pipes of the water service. The current pricing of these covers from Council is $52, however as of 1 July 2023, there will be a price drop to $34.
How can I secure the meter cover to prevent theft?
The meter covers can be chained to the standpipe using a bike chain etc. Metal chains will not effect the signal as they are not covering the meter itself.