Mackay Regional Council
Automatic Meter Reading and Data Acquisition
In 2011, challenged by a rapidly growing population putting increasing pressure on available water infrastructure, Mackay Regional Council (MRC) faced the prospect of reaching capacity in its main water treatment plant. While one option was to build a new water treatment plant (with a $100M price tag), the non-capital solution identified was to reduce per capita consumption. Initial calculations indicated a 10% reduction in per capita consumption could likely delay the new plant by 4-5 years. A key pre-requisite for a demand management program was detailed information around usage patterns and water losses, of which MRC had little or no data.
Taggle Systems, at the time a small start-up, demonstrated that it could collect hourly water meter readings at a low enough cost using its new Low Power Wide Area Network technology to establish a viable business case. After a few trials, MRC committed to using Taggle’s network to automatically read its 40,000+ water meters and started on a journey which would transform its water business.
Increasing from 80,000 to around 300 million meter reads per year highlighted many aspects of water consumption which were previously unknown. Identifying customers’ water leaks quickly, along with an active customer notification program, resulted in a reduction of average leak duration from 150 days to less than 60 days.
Observing that outdoor water use was a major contributor to the peak demand for water in the critical dry season periods, MRC also ran a social marketing campaign on water conservation focused on watering lawns & using water-wise plants.
The detailed data generated has also helped MRC to significantly improve its level of consumer engagement. A dedicated customer portal now enables MRC’s water consumers to view their daily consumption, understand how they compare with their peers, and set up customised alerts to help manage consumption.
MRC’s demand management activities, informed by AMR data, have resulted in a 12% reduction in per capita consumption. The $100M water treatment plant, planned for 2022, has been pushed back to 2032. Capital deferment and cost efficiencies, resulting from the AMR and other initiatives, have enabled MRC to freeze prices for water and sewerage for three years.
MRC’s outstanding work was recognised in 2016, winning both national and international awards for Transforming their Water Business.
Area Covered: >7,500 km2
Devices Connected: > 40,000
Installation: January 2013