What is the pilot project?

    The Smart Water Meter project is a 12-month pilot study of two areas in the Byron Shire to determine how smart water meters can best work in our community. 

    The pilot project will test the viability of a Shire-wide rollout of smart water meters and minimise risk through a staged approach.

    Council will:

    • Review and select the best technology;
    • Trial installation in the pilot areas; and
    • Review the findings and prepare a business case.


    The pilot project will involve installation of approximately 400 smart water metering devices on residential and commercial properties in East Mullumbimby and Byron Bay. 

    Council is currently in the planning stage and has called for tenders for the installation of the pilot project.


    How do smart water meters work?

    Smart water meters provide hourly water consumption data direct to Council, automatically and securely.

    Council and customers can access the data via a secure portal. 


    Why is Council considering smart water meters?

    Currently, Council uses manual meter reads and quarterly billing. 

    There is a significant time period between customer use and billing. Leaks can be slow and problematic to detect, resulting in unexpected higher bills for customers and increased demand on the region’s water sources and Council infrastructure. 

    Recent water restrictions in the region have heightened the need for a reduction in water consumption. With more extreme weather predicted in the future, consistent population growth in the Byron Shire area and finite drinking water sources, this issue is of significance for our future water security. 

    How does the community benefit from smart water meters?

    Smart water meters will help:

    • identify leaks earlier;
    • save water, money and potential damage; and
    • optimise the water network and supply to customers.


    Benefits for Community: 

    • Early identification of leaks; 
    • More timely repairs;
    • Reducing risk of water damage to property;
    • Tracking water consumption by category; 
    • Better management of water usage and budget.


    Benefits for Council: 

    • Early identification and management of leaks; 
    • Detailed consumption patterns and bulk water monitoring (potable and recycled); 
    • Accuracy and immediacy of billing; 
    • Customer dispute management; 
    • Operations management and infrastructure planning; 
    • Understanding the integration with energy use; 
    • Demand and drought management; and 
    • Commercial compliance (liquid trade waste). 


    What areas are receiving the smart water meters in the pilot project?

    The two study groups for the pilot project are located in: 

    1. East Mullumbimby (potable water); and
    2. Byron Bay (bulk recycled water).

    The areas consist of both residential and commercial properties, which provide a suitable cross-section for the study.

    All residences  and businesses in the East Mullumbimby pilot study area will receive smart water devices.

    Selected bulk recycled water users in the Byron Bay pilot study area will receive smart water meter devices.


    When will the smart water meters be installed?

    Installation of the smart water meter devices for the pilot project is expected to commence
    in August 2020. It is expected 80% of the installations for the pilot will be completed by December 2020.

    Will my water be interrupted during the installation of the new devices?

    Although water meters are a Council asset, installation works may require access to private property and water supply may temporarily be disrupted. 

    Council will contact property owners prior to works commencing. Minor plumbing work may be required in some cases, however all work and materials for this pilot project will be at no cost to property owners.

    When will the rest of the Shire receive smart water meters?

    Council will report on and assess the findings of the pilot project before a Shire-wide roll-out is proposed. 

    How much will this cost?

    The cost of the pilot project is estimated at $100,000. 

    The pilot project will involve installation of approximately 400 smart water metering devices. Minor plumbing work may be required in some cases, however all work and materials for this pilot project will be at no cost to property owners.

    How is Council paying for this?

    The pilot project is funded as part of Council’s Operational Plan. 

     

    How do I access information from my smart water meter?

    Community access to the smart water meter data will occur once the pilot project is complete and Council has considered how this can best be achieved. 

    As part of the pilot project, Council will seek community input into preferred formats for accessing data. 


    How will smart water meters help identify leaks?

    More timely and accurate water usage data will help water users and Council identify usage patterns and detect any potential leaks earlier than quarterly readings. 

    If a leak is detected, Council will contact the user so that prompt repairs can occur. 

    Are smart water meters safe?

    Smart water meter communications use low power wide area networks (LPWAN). The devices transmit hourly. The selected supplier will be required to meet relevant health and safety guidelines.

    Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency  (ARPANSA) reports there is no established scientific evidence that the low level RF EME exposure from smart meters causes any health effects. Smart meters are regulated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). The ACMA’s regulatory arrangements require wireless devices to comply with the exposure limits in the ARPANSA RF Standard.

    Do smart water meters transmit high frequency electromagnetic waves?

    Smart water meters transmit at around 800Mhz, which is closer (on the spectrum) to an automatic garage door opener (400Mhz) than a mobile phone (2.4GHz).

    Do smart water meters constantly transmit electromagnetic waves?

    Smart water meters transmit at the most, once per hour and at least once per day.

    Will the smart water meters be installed close to bedrooms or living areas?

    The smart water meters will be installed at the existing water meter, external to buildings.  

    This is normally within 1 metre of the property boundary near the street, away from the house and any general living areas.  

    How can I provide feedback?

    Ask the Project Team a question (publicly) via the Q&A tab. Further feedback will be invited from participants as part of the pilot project process. Stay tuned to Your Say.