WATER METERING

New pre-paid water meters

Leon Basson, Sales and Marketing Director
Leon Basson Sales and Marketing Director - Elster Kent Metering.jpg

A West Rand municipality is turning around its revenue collection with a brand new pre-paid water meter system.

A Local Municipality situated in the West Rand of Johannesburg, was losing a significant amount of revenue resulting from faulty and non-operational water meters at an upmarket housing estate located in its area of jurisdiction.

An analysis conducted at the time showed that as many as 37% of the water meters in the residential estate were not operating at all.

As a result, the municipality appointed Utility Management Solutions (UMS) to undertake the installation of Elster Kent prepaid water meters to all the homes in the residential estate.

Leon Basson, Sales and Marketing Director at Elster Kent Metering explains that the project included the replacement of 1 022 existing water meters with Elster Kent prepaid meters. The payback time including installation was 7.6 months. This has since resulted in the municipality now being able to collect revenue that was previously lost due to inoperable prepaid metering systems.

Although the municipality has been involved in prepaid metering for over 10 years now, they had identified that as a result of some of the residents in the estate being undercharged for their water consumption, and in certain cases not being charged at all, urgent interventions were required due to a significant loss of revenue.

Basson says that the increase in water sales in the estate from the start of the project was a massive 197%. In the first four month period, water sales amounted to an average of R138 070 per month. This obviously takes into consideration that the months from January to April are in the summer season of Gauteng where residents would water their gardens. During the next four months, water sales increased to an average of R300 949 per month. “This shows the turnaround in water billing as a result of the new Elster Kent prepaid water meters in this particular estate,” says Basson.

About prepaid metering

With prepaid metering the consumer is in control of their own water usage, as they decide how much water to purchase according to their requirements at any one time. This system ensures that the consumer can now budget for their water bill, and that they will not receive any surprise bills from the water utility. At any time, the system that has been installed on the consumer’s own property shows how much credit is on the meter and how much water has been used.

The prepaid metering system has numerous benefits including the fact that any water leaks on the premises can be detected immediately as they will be shown on the meter. From a water services authority’s (WSA) perspective, the Elster Kent prepaid metering system is a reliable system that is an effective income generating system for water sales.

The Elster Kent Prepaid Metering system

Basson provides an overview of the Elster Kent prepaid metering system that was installed at the estate. “Our Prepaid Domestic Water Dispenser is designed for individual households, to control the dispensing of prepaid quantities of water. The system comprises three main components, which include the electronic module, latching valve and water meter with pulse output,” says Basson.

Basson explains that this is a multi-tier tariff system, which monitors the monthly consumption of the consumer, and charges them according to the appropriate tariff. A monthly consumption profile is generated, which in turn is loaded back onto the token. This profile is uploaded to the Management System the next time the consumer purchases credit. The Management System also caters for a multitude of reports that can be generated and used by WSAs. The system comes with tamper switches which prevent tampering from unauthorised persons. Any tampering with the system results in the switch being activated and water is then shut-off.

The estate manager says that residents of the estate were very impressed with the way in which the new installation was undertaken. The installation was conducted on schedule according to an agreed project plan. There was effective communications with the residents/consumers and the estate management throughout the project. “Overall the installation of the system was seamless” says the manager.

Another resident of the estate a certain Mr Anderson says: “The installation of the new water meter to my property was carried out in an efficient and competent manner. The company also fully explained how the new water meter functioned”.

Basson says that as a result of the success of the project in this estate, the same system has been implemented in four other estates in the area.

Basson also recommends that WSAs do proper investigations before purchasing prepaid water meters, as there are products on the market that under perform. He urges them to visit WSAs where the products are installed and talk to the relevant people about the product’s performance as well as the after sale services given by the manufacturer.

Nicole Christie

 

Pic 1 Elster Kent prepaid water meters.JPG
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