South East Water is approaching a milestone 30,000 IoT-enabled digital meters in households across Melbourne’s south east, helping customers manage water use and detect leaks. So far the new technology has helped customers find leaks they didn’t know they had, saving on average $150 in unnecessary usage charges, and reducing water wastage.

South East Water has now installed more digital meters in metropolitan Melbourne than any other water utility, in what is one of the largest digital meter rollouts in Australia. Installations are free and voluntary for all customers.

By installing the meters across a wide range of geographic areas, customer groups and housing types, South East Water has been able to thoroughly test the new technology and validate the key assumptions that underpin its digital strategy.

The initiative is part of a broader metropolitan Melbourne joint digital metering trial with Greater Western Water and Yarra Valley Water.

What are the benefits of digital water meters?

The meters provide near real-time water use information, helping South East Water operate the assets more efficiently.

They also help to detect leaks before they turn to bursts, so customers aren’t disrupted with outages. It’s led to a more efficient, reliable service that can lead to lower customer bills.

“The year ahead is exciting for us as we continue to scale out the IoT digital reading devices across our customer and network assets, and we have only just scratched the surface regarding the insights we’ll get,” said South East Water General Manager Digital Utilities, Andrew Forster-Knight.

"We're finding that thanks to digital meters, customers are able to check their daily water usage via a customer portal rather than waiting three months for their bill.

In addition, between 3 and 5 per cent of households have a leak that they weren't aware of. Once we've notified them of this, they can repair the leak before it makes a considerable impact on everyday life.

In fact, locating and fixing a leak early is preventing an average of $150 of usage charges being added to bills, so there are considerable savings to  be made thanks to this technology,"
-  Andrew Forster-Knight, General Manager Digital Utilities
Case study: Saving water and money for customers – digital metering in action 

One of South East Water’s digital meters sprang into action on an Aquarevo property in Lyndhurst finding a major water leak of 27,960 litres over a 24-hour period which could have cost the customer almost $10,000.  

With the property still in the early stages of construction, the meter’s high pressure and continuous flow alarms went off, sending real-time information about the property’s water loss straight to South East Water. After contacting the customer to let them know about the issue so they could fix it quickly to save both water and money the customer confirmed that their builder wasn’t aware of the damage or the leak. 

If it wasn’t for the digital meter picking up the leak, it would have continued until it was either physically visible on the property and/or when the customer received their high water bill, causing bill shock. With the next bill due 85 days away the customer saved 2,376,600 litres in wasted water and a $9,821 water usage charge. It also may have prevented damage to the property, causing building delays. 

The initiative is part of a broader program by South East Water to continually improve the water service through technology

South East Water’s digital transformation journey started several years ago as a way to empower customers with more information about how and when they use water. 

With automated leak alerts and greater visibility of usage patterns, customers have been able to manage their usage and bills more efficiently. 

By collecting data from water and wastewater networks, South East Water has also been able to gain valuable new insights into how their assets operate. The unique sensors, embedded directly into meters or placed on other network assets, have provided insights about how the network performs and how faults can be managed more efficiently. 

An example, the Sotto® vibration sensor constantly monitors the network, locating leaks before the customer is even aware. Previously, leaks were only identified when a customer called. The new technology leads to not only a better experience for the customer, but also lower costs across the network. 

With Victoria’s population set to grow to an estimated 10 million people by 2051, and with a warming climate and less rain, water conservation measures such as these will become increasingly important. 

What’s next?

Now that South East Water has installed almost 30,000 digital meters working across the network, the next ‘build and scale’ phase will get underway in 2022. 

For more information visit our digital water meters webpage.  

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Melbourne working together

We’re collaborating with City West Water and Yarra Valley Water on the benefits of digital meters.

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