Some NZ local authorities are beginning to investigate using “smart” meters to measure water consumption.
A trial was recently conducted in Tauranga (See: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/bay-of-plenty-times/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503343&objectid=11106076 and http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/smart-water-meters-being-considered-for-tauranga/), and there was a trial of “smart” water meters proposed for Raglan* (which according to Council, did not go ahead). Another trial of “smart” water meters is due to begin in Tairua, on the Coromandel Peninsula, in May 2014. According to the Thames-Coromandel Council website about a quarter of the homes and businesses in Tairua will have their existing analogue meters replaced with “smart meters” as part of the trial.
The Thames-Coromandel Council has put very little information about the specifics of the trial on its website, in terms of information about the meters and their capabilities.
Information obtained under the Official Information Act regarding the Tauranga trial has shown that the meters trialled (Sappel IZAR CP R3.5 868 MHz) use a battery to produce a radiofrequency pulse every eight seconds. While the meters are battery powered which means that the pulse will likely be lower power than emissions from the “smart meters” being introduced for electricity, the “smart” water meters trialled in Tauranga transmit at 868MHz while electricity “smart meters” in NZ typically use the 900MHz or 1800MHz frequency brands, according to the NZ Electricity Authorrty.) The Tauranga trial tested the function of the meters in transmitting to a hand-held or drive-by receiver.
Technical specs for the Sappel IZAR CP R3.5 meter indicate that its transmission range is up to 500 metres “depending on the environment”. While the trial in Tauranga assessed a system where data was collected by a hand-held device or a device in a vehicle being driven down the road, the type of meter tested is compatible with a fixed “IZAR RECEIVER GPRS/LAN” system which is capable of collecting all the data from the meters, storing it and then transferring it to a central computer system. This potentially raises privacy concerns, since if the meters transmit data every eight seconds, it should be theoretically possible to use the data to work out patterns of activity in a household, based on patterns of water consumption, in a similar way in which patterns of activity in a household can be inferred from electricity use. (See the graphic at this link http://www.smartmeterpowerstruggle.wordpress.com/ for an example of how electricity “smart meters” can compromise privacy, and for a discussion of privacy and home security issues please see these links: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/government-and-electricity-industry-positions/network-tasman-there-are-no-privacy-concerns-with-smart-meters-yeah-right/ and www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/how-smart-meters-can-help-burglars/.)
The French multinational company Veolia has the contract to supply water services for the Thames-Coromandel Council. It seems likely that if the trial in Tairua is successful “smart” water meters could be rolled out in Tairua and other towns in the Coromandel area.
Regardless of the technical specifications of the meters in the Tairua trial, the trial will increase the ambient level of radiofrequency radiation in the town (which would increase still further should the council decide to allow “smart” water meters to be installed in the entire town.) The trial (and any eventual roll-out of the “smart” water meters in the town) could adversely affect people who are sensitive to electromagnetic radiation, such as those who have EHS. (For an example of what it is like to live with EHS, please see this link: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/what-is-it-like-to-live-with-electrohypersensitivity-ehs-one-womans-story/
If you are in Tairua and do not want a “smart” water meter monitoring water use at your home or business, an email to the Council refusing consent for entry to your property for the purposes of removal of your analogue meter may be a good first step. You may also want to state that you do not consent to radiofrequency radiation to be broadcast over your property by your water provider, including to or from any of your neighbour’s properties.
*According to www.stuff.co.nz: “In September last year, Mr Ninnes briefed Mr Allen on WEL Networks’ progress rolling out its electricity smart meter technology, and expectations that every property in Hamilton will be connected to the company’s new network through a fully functioning WEL Networks smart box by the middle of this year.
“Mr Ninnes then told Mr Allen he had just brought together a specialist team to develop a smart water meter “proof of concept” to demonstrate the smart boxes could also support water meters, feeding information directly to WEL.
“He discussed a small field trial of smart water meters connected to Raglan properties already hooked up to WEL Networks’ completed smart network.”