Water conservation was a headline topic on the periphery of the COP17 United Nations climate change conference in Durban in December last year. But “all the planning and good intentions in the world will fail without accurate water metering,” says Basil Bold, managing director of Sensus South Africa.
“Uncountable litres of water are being lost in South Africa through inefficient metering – and sometimes no metering at all,” Bold says. “The fact is that the successful management and effective conservation of water resources is impossible without efficient metering.”
Sensus SA is a leading supplier of water meters and metering systems to municipalities and water utilities across the country.
According to Bold, some forward-looking municipalities and water utilities are making significant individual contributions to improved water conservation by using more sophisticated meters and the ‘smart’ metering and recording systems that have become available in recent years. However, his concern is that water wastage remains a major ongoing problem “because other water suppliers are lagging behind. Too many are keeping inadequate records – and some are not keeping records at all.
“It’s not only water loss – it’s also easily preventable revenue loss by municipalities,” he notes.
Efficient, accurate, smart meters are part of the solution. “The development of water networks and, within them, carefully delineated metering zones integrating smart meters into the rapidly evolving architecture of data transmission, enables municipalities and water utilities to improve their water-measurement capability significantly.”
Within these networks, in individual metering zones, “water management packages” can provide the technology to measure demand and supply and water pressures, and to identify any delivery problem or leakage quickly in each zone.
Typical of this advanced technology are automated water meter reading (AMR), and the latest development, advanced meter infrastructure (AMI), which has taken water management efficiency to new levels. Sensus’s FlexNet is one such system. It is a long-range radio networking system which rides on the back of existing AMR smart metering and smart grid applications and is already being used successfully in urban areas in the United States and Britain.
Bold adds,“The Durban conference has focused renewed attention on our water management needs and the urgency for water conservation. It’s recognised that fresh water is becoming a threatened resource.
“But quite apart from the ecological and environmental benefits of efficient water management, it’s common business sense for water suppliers to develop systems that will avoid water – and revenue – losses. The tools are available. Municipalities and water utilities need to make use of them. Saving water through effective water management could also save South Africa some of the costly development of new water supply sources.”