Smart water meters demonstrate leak detection in NZ communities


Smart water meters have led to a 25% reduction in usage largely due to less wastage to leaks in two Marlborough towns, New Zealand.

For the two towns of Renwick and Havelock in the Marlborough district in northern South Island, the new meters were installed in 2020 to help residents better understand, and reduce, their water use in the year ahead of the start of metered billing.

During the summer months, Renwick and Havelock domestic water supplies have often struggled to meet the demand.

The move to domestic water metering in the towns comes following public consultation, where a majority of the residents supported metering.

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The new meters provide drive by reading, which has transformed meter reading in the townships, making it quicker and more effective.

“These communities rallied around voluntarily in response to the Council’s call to reduce consumption,” said Operations and Maintenance Engineer Stephen Rooney.

“Water meters are the fairest way to pay, as you only pay for the water you actually use, giving people control over their bill. It also helps secure future supplies by encouraging people to conserve water, and it helps to identify leaks and get them fixed quickly. It also reduces the capital and operational costs related to water supply.”

For the Council, the leak detection characteristic of the meters has been a key benefit, with the meters able to detect flows from a leaking tap to a full-on broken pipe.

Residents with large persistent leaks are able to access the Council’s ‘30 minutes free’ leak detection service to help pinpoint water wastage.

The Marlborough District Council has been rolling out water meters in the small towns across the district since 2000, but Renwick and Havelock’s are the first with drive by reading.

Early trials in the two towns found some 60 homes with leaks in excess of 72l per day and one in Renwick recording a massive 67,000l/day and another in Havelock with 30,000l/day.

Water metering is gaining traction in New Zealand with leakage believed to average around 20% and concerns with the growing demand likely to exceed supply. In Wellington for example, peak demand is expected in as little as six years and water meters are under consultation.