We’re making our water supply network smarter now so you can be smarter about your water usage in the future.

FAQs

While your existing mechanical water meter is read by a meter reader four times a year, a smart water meter captures your water meter readings every 30 minutes, and transmits this data once a day.

This extra data allows you and Unitywater to get a more detailed understanding of water usage patterns at your property and to notice any significant or unusual changes. This is particularly useful in helping to detect concealed leaks that may be hidden underground, in walls or other parts of your property.

Smart meters will also improve the way we monitor and maintain water quality, check for leaks in our infrastructure and improve the operational efficiency of our wider water supply network so we can keep our customers and community safe and healthy and keep customer bills as low as possible.

Like your current mechanical water meter, a smart water meter counts and displays the volume of water used on your property as it flows through it. But unlike the mechanical meter, a digital meter will also transmit meter readings at regular intervals (e.g. daily) to Unitywater via a digital communication network.

We’ll be installing two different smart meter devices in your area:

  • smart loggers, which sit on top of your existing mechanical meter
  • fully-integrated smart water meters which totally replace the mechanical meter

We are testing a number of different models to determine which are the best for all Unitywater customers and our business.

Smart meters are powered by a battery that normally lasts between 10 and 16 years, so data transmission can continue in the event of a power outage. If there is a failure of the device, alerts are set up so that Unitywater will be notified automatically. 

Smart meters are currently in use in Mackay and Wide Bay, Queensland, in other states of Australia and in many overseas countries. We have also trialled similar smart meter technology in Noosa and Clontarf.

Most of our customers in the Smart Meter Network will receive one of the devices shown below:

  • a smart logger, which sits on top of your existing mechanical meter, or
  • a fully-integrated smart water meter, which totally replaces the existing mechanical meter.

These different types of smart meters all transmit the same type of water usage information and offer the same benefits.

Digital Logger Smart Meter

Integrated Smart Meter

For some customers, there will be a short water outage at their property for less than one hour when we install the smart meter. If your water is going to be turned off, we’ll put a notice in your letterbox at least two days beforehand. We will also notify the property owner via email and/or SMS, if we have these contact details.

If you have any concerns about your water being turned off, please contact us.
There will not be any cost to you. Unitywater will cover the cost of the smart meter installation and any ongoing maintenance costs.
While there is an initial cost to Unitywater to install the smart meters and communication network, the longer-term benefits from this roll-out will far outweigh this initial expenditure and it forms a key part of our strategy to keep our customers’ bill as low as possible. 

For example, every year, Unitywater and our customers lose water through leaks, which can go undetected for long periods of time, resulting in large bills for our customers and to our business. Smart meters enable us to identify and repair leaks much sooner and minimise these costs for everyone.

To thoroughly assess the capabilities and benefits of the smart meter network, we need to test it with a variety of our customers and property types. We have therefore selected properties across Mooloolaba, Maroochydore, Buderim and Alexandra Headlands, as these areas represent a broad cross-section of our customers.

All customers in the neighbourhood will have a smart meter. This is so we can fully test and realise the benefits of the smart meter network. We also want to ensure that not only the customers living at these properties now, but the wider community and customers in future will have access to the benefits that the smart water network will provide. For this reason, we’re not giving our customers the option to opt-out of having a smart water meter installed at their property. 
No personal data is transmitted from your smart water meter. The data that is transmitted only includes the smart meter serial number, timestamp and meter reading (i.e. total amount of water used in kilolitres). None of your personal details such as your name or property address is included in the transmission, and Unitywater does not use this information for monitoring customers’ daily usage. 

Any data that Unitywater receives from smart meter with be treated in accordance with our Privacy Policy and Australian data security requirements.

Your smart meter data is transmitted as an encrypted radio signal. This data is protected by a VPN (virtual private network) with tightly configured firewalls and password authentication requirements on all servers.

Every batch of smart meter devices that enters Australia is subject to very strict testing by Australian Government authorities to ensure complies with relevant Australian Standards. These smart meters have also received approval from the National Measurement Institute for trade use.

The energy emitted from modern smart meters is just a tiny fraction of the energy from a normal mobile phone - in fact, it’s only as much as one click of an automatic garage door.

Smart meter devices have been in place in a variety of locations both in Australia and around the world for some years now. No known health issues have been directly tied to the emitted energy from these devices.

From September 2020, we’ll start to install the first of the 10,000 smart meters and it will take us twelve months to complete the installation and fully test the meters. You won’t be able to access any data during this time.

We’ll keep you informed about this process and let you know how and when you’ll have access to your smart meter data. We’ll also undertake research to understand how you want to receive and use water usage data, and we’ll build this feedback into the design of future digital solutions for our customers.

This may seem like a long process, but we’re taking time to get it right and ensure we understand exactly how our customers want to use smart meter information before we deliver it to you.

We will continue to read your existing water meter every quarter and if we suspect high water usage or a possible leak at your property, we will continue to alert you to this in the same way as we currently do for all our customers, which is usually by email or a letter to the property owner.

In the future, we will provide data from the smart meters to help our customers detect leaks on their properties earlier and avoid high bills. But first we need to check this data is accurate and reliable, and consistent with the water usage data from your existing mechanical meter.

While we will do what we can to let you know about suspected leaks, it is the property owner’s responsibility to find and repair any leaks on their property and to pay for any excess water usage that is caused by the leak. We recommend you check for leaks regularly between bills - you can find an easy step-by-step guide on our website.

The installation of your smart meter will not change the way we bill you. The information from your smart meter will only be used for testing and will not be used to calculate the charges on your bill. We will continue to read your mechanical water meter every quarter and this reading will be used to calculate the charges on your water and sewerage bill.