Remote Aussie town turns to smart meters to manage water

Published under GNU Free Documentation License, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kalgoorlie.jpgA remote and water-scarce community in western Australia is looking to better manage that precious resource with an advanced metering system.

Kalgoorlie, with a population of around 28,000, is rolling out some 13,500 smart meters from Itron, along with network infrastructure and software to manage the new system. The utility overseeing the deployment — the Water Corporation of Western Australia — hopes the new technology will help it manage its water, wastewater and drainage services more efficiently.

“Scarcity issues and the impact of prolonged droughts are intensified without proper resource management,” explained Marcel Regnier, president and COO of Itron Water. “With this project, the Water Corporation has affirmed its commitment to its customers and to good stewardship of water in the region.”

The city is completely reliant on the state capital of Perth for its fresh water supply, which is delivered via a water pipeline nearly 600 kilometers (about 373 miles) long. It’s also the largest urban center in a region where water scarcity is an everyday reality.

The new system will be the largest wireless fixed-network water metering deployment in Australia to date. The installation will use communications modules to wirelessly transmit metering data to collection devices in the field. That data will then be passed over the network to a centralized billing system at the utility.

The Water Corporation plans to analyze that data to help it forecast and manage production capacity. The system is also designed to detect leaks within the distribution network and send out alerts to the utility can improve efficiency, reduce water losses and better manage its costs.

By eliminating the need for manual reading of hard-to-access meters, the system is also expected to increase operational safety for the Water Corporation’s employees and contractors.

“With fewer property intrusions, quick access to special readings, detailed consumption data for a future customer portal, this solution will help us provide the best possible service to our customers,” said Garry Peach, the utility’s project manager. “Ultimately, our goal is to help customers understand their usage patterns and change consumption behaviors to use water more efficiently.”

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