Water & Wastewater Treatment

WWT June 2018

Water & Wastewater Treatment Magazine

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Page 22 of 47

www.wwtonline.co.uk | WWT | XXXX 20XX | 23 The Works I t is still relatively early days, but the indications are that smart metering can deliver definite results in the sector. On water efficiency, metering of any sort appears to represent a www.wwtonline.co.uk | WWT | JUNE 2018 | 23 Smart metering shows signs it can bring significant improvements on water consumption, leakage and more. But what will it take to tempt companies outside water-stressed areas to get on board? By Robin Hackett Smartening Up straightforward path to cutting per capita consumption (PCC), and smart metering has shown evidence it can enhance those benefits. The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), the body set up to make recommendations to government about the country's long-term infrastructure needs, issued a report in April in which it recommended that Defra enable all companies – including those outside water-stressed areas – to implement compulsory metering by the 2030s. It also recommended that all water companies be required to consider the systematic roll-out of smart meters. For many companies, though, there are still plenty of questions that must be resolved before there is a clear case for universal implementation. If there is no pressing need to conserve water, metering of any type – and particularly smart meters – will be weighed against cost, and any decision to adopt a new technology prompts concerns about when that technology might become outdated or even obsolete. With the smart meters in use in the UK now, which communicate using radio frequency (RF) technology, companies can gain hourly readings. That brings a host of benefits: you can gauge the times of heaviest use, provide feedback to those with excessive consumption levels with the incentive of reducing bills, and leakage becomes eminently detectable. Also, while the NIC's report cited research showing that even standard meters reduce average consumption by 15 per cent, that rises to 17 per cent for smart meters, and trials have shown particularly strong advantages in any instance where the customer actively engaged with their meter data. However, the hourly data from the current smart meters in the UK is not yet available in real-time – companies are having to wait until the following day before it can be accessed at this point – which might mitigate some of the benefits, such as leakage detection. Simon Murray, who once chaired Water UK's smart metering network as well as sitting on the now-defunct smart metering advisory group for Ofwat, is currently working on so–ware and app development in relation to metering in his role as water solutions manager at Wheatley. He is a long-standing advocate for metering but argues that the term 'smart meter' is a misnomer at this stage. "Until you get real-time or at least semi-real-time data, it's never really going to be smart metering," Murray says. "The technologies available today are simply smarter."

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