More tech needed to prevent precious water loss, experts say

More tech needed to prevent precious water loss, experts say

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Auckland's second-largest water storage lake at the Upper Maungatawhiri Dam in the Hunua Ranges, at just 49 per cent full during drought.

Watercare/Supplied

Auckland’s second-largest water storage lake at the Upper Maungatawhiri Dam in the Hunua Ranges, at just 49 per cent full during drought.

Water shortages were all too real for many districts last summer, but tech experts say we have enough if we’re smarter about how we look after it.

Water restrictions in our biggest city were predicted to extend into next year and many of our smaller councils’ networks were leaking like sieves.

Auckland’s water shortage had been exacerbated by a lack of investment in technology, NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller said.

“Without doubt, there are environmental factors at play but factors contributing to water sustainability also extend to the infrastructure including better use of technology.”

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Muller said many areas were still relying on manual and infrequent meter read processes which made it difficult to see where, and how much water leakage was happening.

The not-for-profit group suggested using Internet of Things (IOT) technologies such as smart meters that constantly measure and report water usage.

“The data from smart meters informs customers so they can better manage their water usage and helps water companies identifying issues such as leaks in the system.”

Auckland Council’s water management organisation Watercare said the city had one of the lowest rates of water loss per connection at around 13.4 per cent.

Watercare already uses sophisticated technology to find and repair leaks.

“An acoustic leak detection device locates leaks by characterising and differentiating leak sounds from those of normal water flow in our pipes.”

Auckland’s recent drought and subsequent water restrictions were the most severe the country has seen in nearly 30 years, Muller said, and water sustainability was “top of mind for much of New Zealand”.

Recent flooding damage to Featherston’s water supply contributed to the district’s remarkably high water loss figures.

SUPPLIED/Stuff

Recent flooding damage to Featherston’s water supply contributed to the district’s remarkably high water loss figures.

South Wairarapa District Council revealed last week it was losing more than half of its fresh water supply through leaks.

The council was in line for more than $2.8 million in government grants if it agreed to sign up to the Government’s first tranche of the Three Waters reforms.

Wellington Water has recently taken over management of the district’s water.

Wellington Water chief executive Colin Crampton said there was a possibility for water conservation trials in one of South Wairarapa’s three main towns.

“We want to stabilise the system, so we know what’s going wrong, and start addressing the issues. Here’s an opportunity to do some trials, and some new ideas.

Wellington Water agreed that better water retention could mitigate future shortages and was considering the installation of smart meters across the region.

“Metering can help manage demand in two main ways. Firstly, it enables high-quality monitoring of flow levels within the network, meaning significant leaks can be identified, located and repaired faster and more cost-effectively.

“Secondly, it can provide greater awareness of local usage levels, informing consumer decision-making in relation to consumption,” a spokesman said.



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