Southern Rural Water (SRW) was an early adopter of Taggle’s smart water metering solution for the remote monitoring of water assets across its service area. One of the major drivers for adopting smart metering was the health and safety of employees.
Simon Wilkinson is the General Manager of Service Delivery at Southern Rural Water (SRW). He strongly believes in managing and monitoring water assets while keeping employees safe.
Adopting Taggle has resulted in less manual meter reading for his team. This reduces the risk of injury and gives the team more time to concentrate on resource management and providing good customer service.
What makes SRW unique?
SRW is responsible for managing three irrigation districts, regulating surface water and groundwater licensing, and seven major storage dams across the southern third of Victoria. Its territory covers 88,000 square kilometres or 37 per cent of Victoria. SRW services an area that stretches from the South Australian border in the west to the New South Wales border to the north and from the Great Dividing Range to the Victorian coast.
With assets valued at $1.4 billion, SRW’s extensive asset base delivers water from the catchment to the farm gate. Its services support farmers in growing high-quality, fresh, and local produce.
How important is irrigation to the local area and its agriculture, horticulture, and viticulture sectors?
“Irrigation water is critical for food production, and entire communities are built around this infrastructure,” said Wilkinson.
“Victoria produces 64 per cent of Australia’s milk and 22 per cent of Australia’s vegetables. It is the second-largest horticultural producer in the country. The water we regulate and manage supports farmers who directly contribute to those impressive figures.”
“We are proud to work with these farmers and support Victoria’s $17.5 billion agriculture industry,” he said.
SRW also regulates the surface and groundwater used by other water users across southern Victoria to provide fair, equitable and sustainable access to water.
For what purpose does SRW utilise the Taggle solution?
The water meters SRW manage are spread across an extensive area and can be in hard-to-access locations. Manually reading these meters took considerable time and presented safety and access challenges for SRW staff.
“We reviewed the market and found Taggle technology to be the most cost-effective way for us to achieve our automation and safety goals,” Wilkinson said.
“We have found Taggle technology to be simple, reliable and backed by a company that has deployed hundreds of thousands across Australia,” he said.
The Taggle devices collect hourly water consumption data, which supports resource management on a near real-time basis. SRW began implementing devices in their groundwater and surface water areas in 2015.
“Access to up-to-date usage data means we can compare it against our customers’ entitlement information and help them make better decisions, which was not possible before automated meter reading installation.
Timely information on usage patterns across an area, a river system or an aquifer, means resource managers can make better-informed decisions on allocations, restrictions and decisions such as water trading.”
How has smart water metering improved employee safety?
Wilkinson believes people are SRW’s greatest asset, and Taggle technology has helped make the work of field officers safer and more efficient.
“One of the major early drivers of the automated meter reading installation was the health and safety of our employees,” he said.
Manual meter reading involves visiting every site and negotiating potential hazards in all kinds of weather.
“Adopting Taggle aligns with our Always Safe culture because less manual meter reading reduces the risk of injury to our staff,” he said.
What are the next steps in SRW’s smart water journey?
SRW has about 2,100 meters connected. Over the next two years, it plans to roll out Taggle technology on the remaining 1,700 meters of its fleet.
In the next month, SRW will start installing a Taggle radio network system in the Latrobe Valley that will allow them to bring around 500 water meters online.
Wilkinson said they’ve partnered with another local water authority that agreed for SRW’s Taggle radio network equipment to be fitted on their assets.
“It’s taken a lot of work to reach this point, and we’re excited to be getting the works underway and making the network live,” he said.
As soon as the radio network equipment is commissioned and turned on, it’s live and can receive data from nearby devices.
“Our field officers will then start visiting the properties of the water meters we’re targeting to test for a signal. The strength of the signal will determine the type of device they will then install,” he said.
“We’re on track to meet our automated water meter reading device installation targets. We are looking forward to bringing this technology to more customers soon,” he said. “The old maxim of “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” rings true.”
This article was written by Chris Edwards and first published by Inside Water Magazine