In order to provide communities with vital services, local governments and utility providers around Australia must maintain water and wastewater infrastructure, which can become expensive and resource-demanding over time. The solution to effective water network management lies in finding new, more circular ways to tackle current problems like ageing infrastructure, financial restrictions and environmental concerns
Regularly maintaining and upgrading water and wastewater assets is an extensive undertaking for any water service provider. Financial and environmental concerns mean budgets and team resources can become strained while striving to keep essential services operational.
Ageing infrastructure can lead to large upgrades to modernise or replace existing equipment and assets, especially when it comes to adding new water infrastructure to meet population growth in regional centres. Even with ongoing maintenance, councils and water utilities are often dealing with water leakages, which not only increases costs but results in the loss of treated water.
When it comes to environmental concerns, maintenance and upgrades can be restricted by environmental regulations, as water service providers must take careful consideration to ensure local wildlife and ecosystems are not impacted by works.
Climate change can impact both water assets and resources, with more frequent extreme weather events and changes in precipitation patterns damaging networks and leading to water scarcity as councils struggle to maintain assets.
For both councils and water utilities there is ongoing pressure to provide more reliable and affordable services and ensure their communities are consistently receiving high-quality water supplies to preserve their reputations as dependable essential service providers.
Additionally, non-revenue water (NRW) can pose a great financial risk. NRW refers to water that is lost or unaccounted for in the water supply system before it reaches the consumer.
When water is lost before it reaches the consumer, water service providers are unable to charge for it, significantly impacting their ability to maintain and upgrade water supply infrastructure. Additionally, NRW can result in increased operating costs due to a higher spend on energy and chemicals to treat and pump water that is ultimately lost.
Implementing new tools to combat challenges
Overcoming these challenges will require local governments and water utility teams to adopt new technologies and methods that can help provide reliable services, while also making maintenance cost-effective and less resource-demanding.
Central Highlands Water (CHW), a water utility company servicing the central highlands region in Victoria, including Ballarat, Maryborough and Daylesford, has entered into a contract with global water management company, SUEZ, to address a number of these challenges. Running over a contract term of 15 years, SUEZ will be working with CHW to supply approximately 75,000 smart meters to the Central Highlands community.
The digital metering solution will allow CHW to remotely gather time-of-day usage data, along with remote meter reading for billing. This data will enable CHW to bill accurately and analyse the consumer water network to identify leaks. Moreover, CHW will be equipped with the tools to proactively engage with their local communities by identifying leaks, minimising water loss and supporting water conservation.
As a result, CHW will be able to engage proactively with their customer base to educate, communicate and reduce water usage in the long term.
Through this partnership, CHW and SUEZ will upgrade CHW’s existing water meters across the entire service region with fully integrated digital meters. The upgraded technology will be rolled out between 2023-2025.
Jeff Haydon, Managing Director at CHW, said the utility is focused on a digital transformation to support the best outcomes for their customers and community.
“With SUEZ’s help, we can introduce digital metering to revolutionise the way we do business delivering a large number of benefits including leak-detection, minimising water loss and improving the safety of our meter reading team,” Mr Haydon said.
SUEZ’s Business Development Manager, Laurence Daly, echoed Haydon’s comments by highlighting the myriad of benefits these smart meters will provide.
“SUEZ’s digital metering solution provides CHW with a powerful toolset to manage their water assets with greater efficiency, accuracy, and transparency,” he said.
“By embracing this digital solution, CHW will unlock valuable insights, communicate better with end-users, streamline internal processes, and deliver reliable water services to their local communities, as well as recognising significant operational savings.”
Circular water and wastewater solutions
Finding more sustainable solutions for water networks is critical for councils and water utilities to continue to provide essential services for their communities while facing the challenges of ageing infrastructure, environmental regulations and climate change. Particularly, these solutions must assist with efficient water management to ensure water service providers are able to offer reliable water services while efficiently managing resources.
Digital metering is one-way councils can create a strong connection between utilities and communities to help improve services and ensure customer satisfaction.
Innovative digital technologies can offer new ways of understanding how people use water services, how to conserve finite water supplies and how to maintain assets to meet demand.
SUEZ’s strategic plan centres on value creation through implementing proven solutions that increase innovation and strengthen investments, offering circular solutions for councils and water authorities.
As part of the plan, SUEZ is committed to becoming a more agile and customer-focused organisation to support councils to meet their climate and water conservation targets. Exploring emerging technologies, this strategy offers new solutions to existing challenges, and the means to effectively manage water networks.
For more information on how SUEZ can help councils improve their water and wastewater infrastructure, please visit www.suez.com/en/australia-new-zealand.
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