TECHNOLOGY: City's Tele-Reading Of Water Meters
Recent Western Cape Business News
Cape Town loses almost 19% of its piped water through burst water mains and domestic leaks and, while this is well below the losses for most other cities in the country, it nevertheless costs the City more than R4m annually says Alderman Clive Justus, Mayoral Committee Member for Utility Services, which includes Water and Sanitation Services.
Ald Justus revealed these figures when he announced that the City will be assessing the effectiveness of a pilot project for the remote reading of water meters. This uses a technology that can discern whether there are water leaks or other factors contributing to excessive water loss.
The three trial areas, where meters for the pilot project have been installed, are the Sunset Beach residential area in Millerton, the entire Epping Industrial area and the N2 Gateway residential housing project. Justus said that results from these very different areas would provide feedback and pinpoint potential problems that might arise if this project was to be implemented on a larger scale in future.
He said the technology for these meters is well established internationally. The new meters will eliminate the problems that have been previously experienced with conventional meter reading methods, where locked gates, vicious dogs and other security measures prevent City staff from accessing conventional water meters.
The new remote-read meters are able to measure the complete range of meter sizes and flow rates. The system can be set to take readings at any interval, but the intended once-a-day reading will enable the technology to automatically flag where consistent leaks or wastage, say from a dripping tap or cistern, are occurring. The leaks can then be attended to.
The use of the automated remote readings for all consumption within a suburb, combined with simultaneous readings of bulk zone meters supplying the suburb, will enable a detailed, zone-specific water balance to be calculated. This will enable factors that are contributing to water losses to be identified.
The system allows all water meters to be read automatically and simultaneously and at the exact end of the month, with minimal reasons for missed readings and estimated accounts. This should reduce the frustration for both consumers and City staff, the latter often having to spend a great deal of time resolving inconsistent accounts. It is expected to be a win-win situation for everyone, Alderman Justus said, with the end result being correct billing, accounting and payment for water used, as well as for the identification of leaks and a reduction of wastage.
The trial project is expected to run for the remainder of the financial year, after which a full report will serve before Council. This will identify any problems that may have been experienced, the benefits that have been achieved, as well as the actual cost benefits from the project. The report will also provide details of any future extension of the project, Justus said.
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