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Horowhenua Reaping The Benefits Of Leak Detecting Water Meters

Horowhenua is reaping the benefits of leak detecting water meters.

The first digital smart water meter was installed at Shannon’s Anglican Church Venerable Bede on Wednesday 13 March, 2024 and within two months 500 have been installed throughout the town. An additional 120 properties in Foxton have also had smart meters installed since the start of May.

The new meters can pick up leaks within 14 days, much faster than analogue meters which could take up to nine months. In the past two months, the meters have picked up 65 properties with private side leaks. Once these leaks alone are repaired, this will save our district up to 85,000L of water a day (equivalent to 3.5 swimming pools full of water each day).

Many more savings are expected as our installers work hard to ensure that all properties in Horowhenua connected to town supply have the new meters by the end of 2025.

Our district is short on water, and we currently lose up to a quarter of our supply through water leaks each year (between 300 to 500 litres [L] per connected property per day) putting unnecessary pressure on our water infrastructure. During the Long Term Plan Amendment 2021/2041 it was decided that water meters will be installed to detect leaks and reduce water wastage to ensure a more reliable water supply for Horowhenua.

Chief Executive Monique Davidson says, “The positive effects of installing water meters have been almost immediate. Leaks are in the process of being repaired and this will save a lot of money in the long run. With every fixed leak we are decreasing water demand, and we don’t need to treat as much water. We can delay paying for projects to store extra water, or for consents to take extra water. Fixing leaks means less pressure on our water infrastructure and we are better prepared for growth. Being able to track your water usage also empowers people to be more mindful of their water consumption and create good habits to conserve this precious resource.”

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Identifying where leaks are occurring is far more cost effective than replacing all the pipes in the 115km network which would cost $138M. Each unit only costs $260 plus installation, which is already covered in your rates and there is no cost to get a reading from the meter. Other meters require someone going to each site to record the readings and compare with earlier ones to calculate the risk of a leak, whereas the new meters are read through drive-by radio signal, cutting out the costs of manual labour.

When a leak is discovered, we receive an alert on our software and a flag shows on the water meter’s digital display. Our team sends letters to the property owner when a leak is detected.

Water meters are used for rating and recovering the cost of water infrastructure. Currently, water users in Levin, Ōhau, Foxton, Shannon or Tokomaru pay for water services through their rates, which cover the costs of 91,000L of water per quarter per household (approximately 1000L a day). A cubic metre of water (1000 litres) gives you either approximately 4000 glasses of water, 167 toilet flushes, 22 five-minute showers, 11 baths, 10 full loads of washing or 1 hour watering with a sprinkler.

If you don’t use more than this, you won’t incur any extra water usage charges.

The new digital smart water meters will replace the analogue meters currently used by 40% of our district. Shannon was chosen as the first town to install the new digital smart water meters as leaks were highly suspected due to the water usage compared to population. A suspicion confirmed by the number of leaks already identified.

We fix leaks on our network, and property owners will need to arrange a fix using a private contractor or plumber to fix leaks on their side of the connection.

© Scoop Media

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