Opening water meter cover

The smart water meter project will deliver a Region-wide network of customer water meters that remotely collect water usage figures. This collected data will be provided to Council systems to maintain the current six-monthly billing cycle. It will also provide updates on water usage directly to the customer. 

This will be undertaken via a computer web portal or the Toowoomba Water mobile app in the Apple or Google store. 

The Toowoomba Water app, developed for Council by GreenBe, allows you to use your mobile device to closely monitor your water usage, track high water consumption activities and potentially avoid bill shock. If your property has an underground leak, the Smart Water Meter and Toowoomba Water app will help with early detection. This helps both the household and Council to conserve water.

The electronic access to information may change as technology changes.

We have entered into a multi-year contract with Optus Networks for $27,040,064 which includes a three-year installation program and a further four-year operations and maintenance service contract. There has been $3.3 million allocated in the 2024/25 budget for the round two water meter units installation.

The contract includes standard variations for delays and force majeure events. If there is any material change in implementation, Council will provide an update when reasonably possible in accordance with contract terms and conditions.

Note:  It is not possible to opt out of the meter replacement program as it needs to be system-wide to allow for advanced analytics across the entire water network. This helps Council to operate a more efficient network and assist in the early detection of leaks and breaks. It is essential that all points out of the system are monitored.

Stages

2021 – Contract Award Stage 1 & 2 Proof of Concept

2022 – Council endorsement to proceed with Stage 3 of Contract

2023 – Installation of Round one meters begins in March (approx. 22,000 units)

2024 – Round two (approx. 22,000 units)

2025 – Round three (approx. 21,000 units)

2026 – Ongoing service and support for four years

Start date

October 2021.

Target completion date

2029.

 

Accessing your smart water meter online

A web portal and app (Toowoomba Water app) is available for residents with a smart water meter. The web portal and app have been developed to allow users to check their water usage, understand their water usage patterns and identify any water leaks.

Google Play Google Play 

icon appleStore App Store.

To access in a browser: https://water.tr.qld.gov.au/

 

Frequently asked questions

About the meters

Smart meters collect the same data that existing meters provide with the added benefit of time-stamped readings that can be automatically collected. This can help Council and residents detect leaks and high water consumption before the bill comes.

The current manual meter read occurs every six months, subject to access to the meter. By moving to automated meter reading, both Council and residents will be able to monitor more closely their water usage. The potential benefit of having more available data is that residents won’t be exposed to bill shock. Proactive residents can review data and see what activities around the property are high water consumption activities. If properties have an underground leak, early detection can be achieved.

Yes, across the country there are a number of Councils using the various technologies to record water meter data. It is important to recognise that each Council has its own unique requirements and environmental conditions which determine which technology is best suited for their local community.

No, the meter replacement program is system-wide to allow for advanced analytics across the entire water network. This helps Council to operate a more efficient network and assist in the early detection of leaks and breaks. It is essential that all points out of the system are monitored.

The smart meter should be very similar in size to the existing meters. The smart meter will fit inside the current meter box or will be replaced to ensure safe footpath access is maintained.



What will the smart water meters cost?

The cost of the project, which includes the installation, operation and maintenance, is estimated to be $27,650,000. 

The reading of the meter itself will be a more efficient process, however the residential consumption will remain up to each resident. What the data will provide is more current information on how we use our water and hopefully help change the way we use the resource. If we are better informed on how we use our water, there is evidence to support that consumption does slightly reduce due to behaviour.

 

How will the smart meters be rolled out?

Based on the trial meters installed, Council will systematically fill in the suburbs with the most meters first to close out the current meter routes that will still be manually read over the next three years. The program starting in March 2023 will begin in Newtown and then work outwards in all directions street by street. Residents will receive notification two weeks in advance of any changes to your meter or service as per the current process and Water Act.

No, under the Water Act, as with all current works on residential infrastructure, residents will be provided with a minimum of two weeks’ notice of a meter replacement. For long-term residents who have had their existing meter replaced, this process is identical.

Depending on the complexity of the installation, an installation can take between 20 minutes to three hours.  

 

About access to the meter data

As part of the successful consortium, GreenBe has developed a web portal and Toowoomba Water app which allows users to check their water usages and other features. We are working towards making it as easy for people to securely access their own data without the need for any training. If you use social media on your device, the use of the app or portal should be just as easy.

Then nothing changes from your perspective. You will receive an update from Council regarding your water use every six months with your bill as you do now.

No, similar to your rates data and personal information at Council, all data is secured and stored in Australia under our data sovereignty laws.

No, the data is stored specifically for Council to undertake its own data analysis to improve asset performance.

The smart meter is an ultrasonic meter with no moving parts. It cannot turn your water off.

The hardware (smart water meter) will default and be locked to displaying a cumulative flowrate in kilolitres (kL) on the hardware main screen when the optical button is covered.

The optical button on the hardware is required to be covered for three (3) seconds to unlock the display. Covering the optical button will switch the screen between cumulative flowrate (kL), instantaneous flowrate (kL/h) and water temperature (Celsius).

The display will disappear after two (2) minutes of the optical button not being covered.

The display will default back to the cumulative flowrate (kL) display after 15 seconds of inactivity.

Smart Water Meter safety

The digital Smart Water Meter uses ultrasonic sound to measure the speed of the water flow which shows how much water is being used. 

The devices are completely safe and approved for public use by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA).

Independent tests of the Smart Water Meters used by Council show the measured radio frequency of the electric field levels are below the ARPANSA Radiation Protection Standard No 3, maximum Exposure Levels to Radiofrequency Fields – 3kHz to 300 GHz, commonly known as ARPANSA RPS3.

The tests show that the device operates at below the limits level for general public exposure and are approved for public use. There is no established scientific evidence that the low level of radio frequency electromagnetic energy exposure from a Smart Water Meter causes any health effects.

For more information, please visit the ARPANSA website – www.arpansa.gov.au/understanding-radiation 

While the Smart Water Meter uses sound waves to measure water flow, other than a weak field for the electronic circuit itself, the only time electromagnetic fields are produced is when the meter transmits data (once per day for approximately 60 seconds).

The electromagnetic field strength produced by the meter is less than a tenth of that of a mobile phone and is also orders of magnitudes less than appliances such as home WIFI routers, microwave ovens, smart TVs and baby monitors. At all times, the electromagnetic field is well within the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) guidelines for transmitting devices.

The meter is normally installed outside the building or residence and usually outside the property boundary (usually replaced in the same location as the old manual water meter).

The Smart Water Meters use cellular technology and existing telecommunication infrastructure. The digital meters use a global standard technology that’s part of the 4G/5G Standard.

The meters communicate using licensed spectrum (owned by the telecommunication providers) and are configured to transmit in the 700–900 MHz range in line with the ACMA and legal requirements.  

The meter typically operates between midnight and 4am to transmit the meter reading. It only transmits and receives data for approximately 60 seconds per day, meaning it is not active for the remaining 99.9% of the day.

The meters use batteries. They are not connected to mains power.

The Smart Water Meters have no effects on the quality of water. The meters have ‘Watermark’ certification which means they meet the Australian Standard AS4020 which tests the effects on drinking water in terms of taste, appearance, growth of aquatic micro-organisms, cytotoxic activity, extraction of metals and mutagenic activity.  

The meters have ‘Watermark’ certification and meet the Australian Standard AS4020 and so have no effect on the quality of food grown with water measured by the meter and will not affect the organic classification of otherwise organic food.

No, the meter replacement program is system-wide to allow for advanced analytics across the entire water network. This helps Council to operate a more efficient network and assist in the early detection of leaks and breaks. It is essential that all points out of the system are monitored.  There is no cost for the installation of Smart Water Meters beyond normal rates.