This is an excerpt from the minutes from our meeting in October 2016.
Water deregulation: a view from a Borough
Corin Freshwater-Turner, London Borough of Merton
Before we do anything about suppliers, we needed to know what we currently have. We looked at our portfolio of meters and have upgraded about 100 meters onto AMR. We have a lot of parks which are not manned, so if there’s a leak, we won’t know about it. Installing AMR for these 100 sites cost us approximately £45,000 and will payback in 2-3 years. Of the 100 meters, we had to change a few of them, and Thames Water covered the costs of about 2/3rds of them.
Once you know what you have, you need to think about how you’re going to run it. Either GSM modems for each meter or repeaters and a big aerial at a central point.
The biggest problem has been finding the meters. Often people on site will know where they are but they might not be tracked in databases. But they are worth finding and it’s worth doing the AMR. Get your site managers and locality/Green Spaces teams on it. You will need shut-off to change meters, but it isn’t for long (and it’s not always needed if you’re just adding AMR to existing meters).
Once you have the data, it’s about data mining it. In the first few months of our AMRs, we found £17,000 annual savings from spotting leaks or constant flows that shouldn’t be there. For example, in the civic centre, we found £2,000 worth of savings from, eg, urinals flowing constantly.
Get your list of meters sorted quickly and get the exchanges started as soon as you can as they take time.
Our Borough is a two-supply area, and both wholesalers have been happy to work with our chosen meter installer. We own our AMR so we will retain them if we switch supplier.