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Customer Case Study

Narrabri Shire Council

New South Wales

Starting at around 40% non-revenue water, Narrabri decreased that by half to 20% non-revenue water and expect to recover another 10% within two years.

 

Narrabri Shire Council had recorded the third highest unallocated water losses across NSW and had to do something about it. The business case looked at a number of factors beginning with return of revenue through regained lost water. 

It also considered better use of service staff for planned works rather than meter reading. Narrabri saw the benefit in being more proactive.

Narrabri’s meter replacement program was relatively undefined with meters being replaced only when they failed. Most of the meter fleet was 15 years of age or older and 550 litres per day was being lost per connection (classified as non revenue water).

Narrabri needed to update the meters to get more accurate readings and investigated automating them to receive near real-time data to determine where any leaks or breaks may be and target those for repair. 

Following review of the 2015-16 NSW Water Supply and Sewerage Performance Monitoring Report a decision was made to fast-track the replacement of all water meters with a view to automate if affordable. 

The decision to go with Taggle was based on value for money which included price, ability to deliver quickly (working system) and proven performance record.

The network required 100% connectivity, data management and data feed back into Narrabri Shire Councils billing system and a customer portal interface.

Sensors include;

4,400 Digital water meters

MiWater and MyH2O Portal

Sewer overflow alarms

9 Rain gauges

Narrabri’s losses were reduced significantly. Where previously Narrabri had experienced 40% non-revenue water which they’ve managed to decrease that figure by half to 20% non-revenue water and expect to recover another 10% within two years’ time. The project has helped to generate more revenue even though less water was delivered.

In terms of dollars the project has been very successful. When you break out the cost of the automated meter readings Narrabri have managed to pay for it through increased revenue within the first six months.

Feedback has been nothing but positive with a number of customers notified of leaks they weren’t aware of. Water losses from simple things like pipe breaks and more extensive things like hot water systems that have blown out can now be quickly addressed.

Narrabri have been able to identify these through the monitoring system and report them to the customer. Customers are very surprised when they get a phone call from the Council to say, “We think you’ve got a problem on your property, can we send somebody around to have a look”.

It’s been a good public relations exercise because the Council has been able to provide good community support for people that potentially can’t afford to pay expensive bills. Some of the leaks have been inside houses that have been unoccupied and that makes a bit of a mess and can cause damage costing even more.

The customer portal is a fantastic community-based outcome because customers can see their meter reads on a daily or even hourly basis and manage their bills so they don’t get bill shock. They can also set up their own alarm systems so if they’re away on holiday and they do happen to get a leak they can identify it quickly and take action or if they leave a tap or sprinkler on they will be notified to high usage and can turn it off.