Digital Water Meter Trial
Yarra Valley Water is upgrading water meters with new technology for about 800 properties in the Vermont South area, to better understand the value of digital water metering technology for our customers.
With Melbourne’s population set to double and scientists predicting more extreme droughts in the future, we need to find new ways to improve our water network and work better. We’re exploring upgrading existing water meters to digital water meters to help us manage our water even more sustainably.
Benefits of digital water meters
Digital water meters link to telecommunications networks to relay water meter readings to our secure data centre. Because digital water meters can collect and relay information quickly, they have the potential to provide daily information about:
- your water use, enabling you to be more aware of how much water you’re using
- possible water leaks on your property through a leak alert, so you can take action quickly if needed to save water and avoid potentially high bills.
Upgrading digital water meters in Vermont South
The process of upgrading water meters in Vermont South:
The process explained
1. Existing Water Meter Setup
Currently, a Yarra Valley Water meter reader physically visits a property every 3 months to take a water meter reading. This reading is compared to the previous water meter reading, and the difference is used to calculate the next water bill.
2. Digital Water Meter Trial
Water meters at about 800 properties in Vermont South are being upgraded with new technology.
3. Replacing the water meter
Our contractor replaces the existing water meter with a digital water meter. This takes about 10-15 minutes to do, during which time the property’s water supply may be temporarily shut off. People don’t need to be home.
4. New Digital Water Meter Setup
The digital water meter sends the property’s daily water use data back to Yarra Valley Water.
5. Benefits of having a digital water meter
Be aware of how much water is being used using, and save money and reduce water wastage by identifying possible leaks on the property.
Frequently asked questions
What is a water meter?
Every property has a water meter – a device that tracks the volume of water being supplied to that property from the water pipe out in the street.
Without water meters, we wouldn’t know how much water a property was using, and we wouldn’t be able to accurately bill people for the water they’re using.
Water meters are usually located in the front yard of the property. For most customers, a Yarra Valley Water meter reader physically visits the property every three months to take a water meter reading. This reading is compared to the previous water meter reading, and the difference is used to calculate the next water bill.
How often are water meters replaced?
Water meters last for around 15 years. After this time, the mechanical components within the water meter can start slowing down, meaning water meter readings are tracking slightly less water being used than the property is actually using.
Yarra Valley Water replaces water meters every 15 years, as part of an ongoing maintenance program.
Trial in Vermont South
When is the trial happening?
Water meter upgrades were upgraded in August 2019, and these have replaced existing water meters permanently. Yarra Valley Water is monitoring the results to understand the benefits of a wider digital meter upgrade program.
Where is the trial happening?
The trial is occurring in the Vermont South area, as shown in the map below.
What happens on the day my water meter is upgraded?
Our contractor, New Plumbing Solutions, is upgrading water meters for this trial.
You don’t need to be home on the day of the upgrade. Just in case you are home, a person from New Plumbing Solutions will be knocking on your door to let you know they have arrived.
It takes around 10 to 15 minutes to upgrade your water meter and your property’s water supply may need to be turned off during the upgrade. New Plumbing Solutions will be leaving a calling card to let you know your meter has been upgraded.
What does the digital water meter look like?
See below the difference in appearance between standard water meters and the digital water meter being used in the trial.
Will my water supply be affected?
We may need to turn your property’s water supply off for 10-15 minutes during the upgrade. If your water supply is turned off, you may briefly notice that when it is turned back on, your water bubbles as it comes out of the tap. This is due to air entering your water pipe during the water meter upgrade. It’ll only take a moment for all the air to clear and your water supply to return to normal.
Will this cost me anything?
No, you do not have to pay anything to have your water meter upgraded.
Will my bill change?
No, we will continue to send our meter readers out every three months to manually read water meters, and water bills will be sent out as normal.
Can I take my own reading on the new water meter?
Yes, you can.
To take a reading from your digital water meter please follow these instructions.
Are any other digital water meter trials happening?
Yes, we are working together with the other metropolitan Melbourne water utilities, City West Water and South East Water, to explore upgrading existing water meters to digital water meters to help us manage our water even more sustainably. Find out more about the Digital Metering Joint Program.
Digital water meters have already been rolled out in Europe and North America since 2013, in the cities of New York, Toronto and London. These examples are just the first of a global movement towards a smarter and more reliable future for water.
What happens after the trial?
The trial is helping us to understand the benefits of digital water meters and the practicalities of a future digital water meter replacement program, including understanding what the financial implications may be.
A digital water meter replacement program would only proceed if digital water meters can enable us to deliver benefits and value to our customers.
Your water use data
What happens with my water use data?
From the day you get your new digital water meter, we will be able to notify you about any possible water leaks on your property, so you can take action quickly if needed and avoid potentially high bills from internal leaks.
What happens if there's a possible leak at my property?
If we notice a possible water leak, we’ll contact you as soon as possible and will guide you through checking for and fixing a leak yourself.
If you can’t find the leak, don’t worry – as part of our trial we’re offering a free leak check, to be completed at your property by a qualified plumber.
Can I see my own water use data?
We’re currently developing services where you’ll be able to see your daily water usage online, to help you manage your water use. Trial participants will receive information about these services as we come closer to their launch.
How do digital water meters transmit data?
Digital water meters communicate data to Yarra Valley Water via telephone networks, similar to how mobile phones send data.
Are there any health concerns about data transmission?
The data sent from digital water meters uses low level radiofrequency (RF) waves, a form of electromagnetic energy present all around us from natural and man-made sources.
We are trialling communications technologies that are well within the Australian safety standards and likely to produce much less RF than that produced by a mobile phone.
Yarra Valley Water and the other water utilities are already undertaking independent RF testing, and this will continue if we decide to proceed with a wider digital water meter replacement program.
How are you securing my personal information?
We take your privacy very seriously. We manage your information in accordance with the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014. No personal information is stored on the digital water metering device itself.