Reimagining Water

For a commodity that is vital to our existence and presents itself in our daily routine umpteen times a day, we’ve historically not been very smart about how we use water. The Internet-of-Things is beginning to change this, and South Australia’s water utility SA Water is leading the world.

It’s latest notch in the belt comes from the Institute of Asset Management, who recently held their global awards in London. SA Water took out the coveted Customer Service Award and came runner up in the Project Achievement Award category. A cursory glance at SA Water’s programs explains why it’s competing with much larger and well-resourced utilities from across the globe.

SA Water’s smart water network combines acoustic sensors, pressure and flow data, high speed transient pressure sensors, smart meters and water quality sensors to identify potential leaks and trigger intervention before leaks or breaks escalate to impact customers or commuters. This $4 million trial in the CBD and suburban programs implemented by SA Water has already prevented 30 water main breaks or leaks, which saves wasted water, reduces costs, and saves customers a lot of headaches.

According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, South Australian customers experienced 13.5 water main breaks per 100 kilometres of main, compared to the national average of 21.1.  This reflects SA Water’s focus on keeping the network well maintained. It installed 89 kilometres of new water mains last year – more than 51 kilometres in metropolitan Adelaide and 37 kilometres in country areas.

SA Water’s Chief Executive Roch Cheroux said he was thrilled the team had been recognised for their pioneering adoption of smart technology for the benefit of customers.

“We are the first water utility in the world to implement a range of Internet of Things-enabled sensors at scale within a defined geographic area, and recognition like this award provides a platform to share the knowledge we’ve built and improve water network management practices,” Roch said.

“Awards like this are a credit to our highly capable team who developed this technology with our customers in mind, along with smart technology solutions that will continue to expand to other parts of our network across SA.”

The Institute of Asset Management awards follows a number of other accolades for SA Water’s smart network in 2018, including two awards at the 2018 Australian Internet of Things Awards, a bronze prize at the International Water Association’s Project Innovation Awards and title of 2018 Australian Digital Utility of the Year.

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