Documents obtained under the Official Information Act show that Hamilton City Council has been considering installing water meters, including smart water meters, since 2012.
Below you can read the reply I received when I made a request under the Local Government Official Information Act for information regarding the Hamilton City Council’s plans regarding water meters, and supporting documentation is attached below the text of the email.
If you live in Hamilton and do not want water meters in general or smart water meters in particular you may wish to make your views known to the Council. The water meters that have been trialled to date in NZ produce pulses of radiofrequency radiation (RFR) in the microwave range every 8 seconds. This radiation has been classified as a possible carcinogen. (You can read about the health and environmental concerns with smart water meters at this link:
If smart water meters were installed in Hamilton they could add considerably to the “EMR” smog in the city.
It appears likely that the WEL Network Ltd so-called “smart box” (actually a smart meter) may be able to be teamed up with “smart” water meters to collect the data from “smart” water meters. (See this link for a discussion of this issue.) It is NOT compulsory to have a smart box if you do not want one. Please see these links for information on the smart box issue:
Email received in response to request for information on water meters, including smart water meters
Sent: Friday, 19 September 2014 2:50 p.m.
To: Katherine Smith
Subject: FW: OFFICIAL INFORMATION REQUEST RESPONSE – KATHERINE SMITH – WATER METER BOXES IN FAIRFIELD
Please find below Hamilton City Council’s (HCC) response to your Official Information request, dated 6th August 2014, in respect of the water meter boxes installed in Fairfield.
Regarding the recently installed water meter boxes in Fairfield, Hamilton
- i) What are the names of the streets in which these boxes were installed
- ii) What is the total number of water meter boxes installed?
iii) Were the boxes installed by staff employed directly by the Council?
- iv) If yes, what was the cost of the actual water meter boxes?
- v) If yes, what was the estimated cost of the Council staff labour used in installing the water meter boxes?
- vi) If the Council contracted out the installation of the water meter boxes to another party what is the name of the company to which this contract was awarded?
vii) What is the total value of this contract?
viii) Please supply a copy of the contract for the installation of the water meter boxes.
Toby Boxes, which can be utilised to house water meters, have been installed in Sare Cresent, Fairfield. There were a total of 51 boxes installed. The installation was completed by HCC staff at an estimated labour cost of $11.25 per box. HCC did not contract out the installation of water meter boxes in Fairfield.
HCC is unable to disclose the cost of the Toby boxes, as these were supplied under contract and the cost is considered commercially sensitive. Consequently, the Information in respect of the cost of the Toby Boxes is withheld under Section 7(2)(b)(ii) of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 – in that release would be likely to unreasonably prejudice the commercial position of a person who supplied or is the subject of the information.
Please supply copies of all other documents including but not limited to, email correspondence, minutes of meetings, internal memos, advice received, etc. relating to the installation of the water meter boxes in Fairfield.
The only correspondence Council has on record is your Official Information Request.
Please supply copies of all correspondence between Council staff and/or councillors with WEL Networks Ltd, or their agents, regarding possible integration of WEL Networks Ltd “smart boxes” with Council infrastructure.
Please supply copies of all Council documents (including but not limited to, minutes of meetings, internal memos, advice received, etc.) regarding possible integration of WEL Networks Ltd “smart boxes” with Council infrastructure.
Please find attached copies of information, as requested, which HCC considers can be made available to you in accordance with the purposes of LGOIMA and the principle of availability.
Copies of some information has been withheld under the following sections of the of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 as follows:
Section 7(2)(b)(i) – in that release would disclose a trade secret. The information is withheld on the grounds that providing this information would disclose a trade secret belonging to WEL.
Section 7(2)(b)(ii) – in that release would be likely to unreasonably prejudice the commercial position of a person who supplied or is the subject of the information. The information is withheld on the grounds that it would unreasonably prejudice the commercial position of WEL.
Please be advised that the withheld information is in the form of a proposed MOU and confidentiality agreement that WEL has put to HCC relating to HCC being an observer and having the opportunity to learn from a technology trial with Smart Metering.
If you have any concerns with the decisions referred to in this letter, you have the right to request an investigation and review by the Ombudsman under section 27(3) of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987. For your information, the Ombudsman’s contact details are:
Post: PO Box 10152, Wellington 6143
Telephone:0800 802 602
I must apologise that there was a delay in replying to your request.
If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.
On Behalf of the Privacy Officer
Other documentation supplied by the Hamilton City Council
In addition to the email above, the following document was supplied by Hamilton City Council.
Communications between HCC and WEL (3)
An earlier post on this website (since corrected) erroneously stated that having a smart meter could mean that householders could have their heat pump turned off remotely by their electricity company. (In actual fact, some smart meters may be able to turn down heat pumps down to their lowest setting, but they should not be able to turn them off altogether… please read on for more details and to learn whether you may be affected if you have a heat pump that may be able to be controlled via a smart meter.)
My initial error (in stating that a smart meter with a ZigBee chip* could potentially be used to remotely turn off a heat pump) was kindly pointed out to me by Graeme Purches from Trustpower. In an email he wrote:
“There are probably less than 20 meters in NZ that are equipped for this [turning off heat pumps and other devices remotely], and they are installed as part of field trials to test their capabilities.”
“At the end of the day, the direction the industry is headed is that people will in the future be able to determine at which price point they want their appliances to start and stop. The control will be in the hands of the consumer, unlike controlled hot water, which is a network load issue and can legitimately be controlled in return for lower price because those using the option have hot water storage. You can’t ‘store’ the heat from a heat pump so the industry would never want to control those.”
I decided to investigate the issue of how smart meters may be used to remotely control heat pumps (without the householder’s consent) in more detail.
My initial (and as it turned out, incorrect) information about heat pumps having mandatory “demand response functionality” came from the website of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.
In following up on this issue, I first tried to access the current standard for heat pumps and found that while there was one in existence, I could not access it unless I either went to the central library in Auckland (not very practical) or paid a couple of hundred dollars (not feasible either).
I therefore sought the advice of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Agency (EECA).
A helpful staff member wrote an email that explained the following:
1) That having “demand response functionality” is not currently mandatory in NZ.
2) That some of the heat pumps on the NZ market do have “demand response functionality”. This “demand response functionality” cannot be used to turn the heat pump off altogether but it can be used to turn the heat pump down to its lowest setting.
3) That manufacturers can choose to show that their heat pump has demand response functionality on the label on their heat pump. You can click on the image to make it larger. The tick mark which is circled in red indicates that the appliance has “demand response functionality”.
Presumably heat pumps that have “demand response functionality” will contain a ZigBee and/or some other radiofrequency radiation (RFR) producing device to allow the appliance to communicate with a smart meter. I have no idea whether appliances which have “demand response functionality” will be producing RFR all the time or intermittently or whether the default setting for the appliance will have the “demand response functionality” switched off.
However, if you do not want extra RFR in your environment and/or you do not want to risk your electricity company being able to control your heat pump via a smart meter in your home, it would seem prudent to avoid buying items with “demand response functionality” indicated by the label.
Please note that I do not know whether it is mandatory for manufactures that make appliances that have “demand response functionality” to declare this capability on the label. For this reason it would be prudent to ask the retailer whether any appliance you would like to buy has any “demand response functionality”, regardless of the label. If you already have a heat pump and it not longer has its label, please see the info at the bottom of this post.
So there you have it. It does appear that some smart meters in NZ (those than contain ZigBee chips*) may have the capacity to remotely control some heat pumps, although this feature may not yet be active. It also appears that there are heat pumps on the NZ market which have “demand response functionality” which could allow them to be controlled via a smart meter.
*In NZ, smart meters that contain ZigBee chips include:
WEL Networks Ltd “smart box” (actually a Landis+Gyr smart meter) and the Landis+Gyr smart meters being installed by Network Tasman Ltd and Counties Power in South Auckland/Franklin. These contain a “silver spring” brand “network interface card” which includes a modem and a ZigBee. The default mode for the ZigBee on the “silver spring” brand “network interface card” has been stated to be inactive, so these ZigBee chips, may not yet be functional. (Presumably they could be activated remotely by a power or lines company should the company with an active link to the smart meter modem decide to do this.)
It is possible other smart meters contain ZigBee chips; some EDMI smart meters which are very common in NZ have the potential to include a ZigBee chip.
If you are in any doubt about whether the smart meter at your home has a ZigBee chip, your electricity retailer should be able to tell y0u.
If your heat pump no longer has its label you can find out about its “demand response functionality” through the following procedure:
1) Go to this link:
2) Scroll down the link above until you come to this text:
Next steps for households and businesses
3) Click on the word “Compare energy ratings”…as above and you will get to this link:
4) At the link above you will see a list…pick “Air Conditioners” by clicking on this link Air Conditioners – AS/NZS 3823.2 and you will get through to this link:
At the link above you will see a row of black buttons…one is Download CSV.
Click on this and you will get an Excel file. Open the file.
The field that indicates whether a heat pump has “demand response functionality” is labelled “BE” at the top of the column. The word “TRUE” in the “BE” column indicates the heat pump has “demand response functionality”. The word “FALSE” in the “BE” column indicates that a heat pump does not have “demand response functionality” .
URGENT: The Waikato District Council is having an extraordinary meeting on August 19 during which they will decide (among other things) whether to accept a resolution relating to “smart” water meters. (See this post for details: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/urgent-smart-water-meter-alert-for-waikato-district-council-area/.)
If you oppose the introduction of “smart” water meters to the area served by Waikato District Council (and/or oppose the introduction of water meters in general, here are some ideas you may like to use when emailing the Mayor and Councillors to express your opposition.
Please share this link and encourage everyone you know to do likewise. Thank you.
The email adresses for the Mayor and Councillors are at this link:
A suggested format for the letter will be detailed below.
REASONS TO OPPOSE THE INTRODUCTION OF WATER METERS (REGARDLESS OF TYPE)
If you oppose the introduction of water meters in general, you may want to express one or more of the following reasons for your opposition:
* Cost to Council: You may think that the money spent buying and installing water meters could be better spent by the Council in other areas (please give examples, if you know of a local Council service which has not been funded or is under-funded where the money could be better spent.)
* Cost to Rate Payers: You may wish to express concern that spending money on water meters will be reflected in your rates bill, in terms of increased charges for water and/or a general increase in rates to cover the capital expenditure involved in installing water meters. If any rates increase may adversely affect your personal budget and/or viability of your business (if it is one that uses a lot of water, for example, a cafe or other business that provides toilet facilities for the public) you may wish to discuss this.
* Public health reasons: You may wish to express opposition to water meters as this increases the cost of living for everyone and low income families may be adversely affected by having to cut back on water use, and consequently being more at risk of developing impetigo, scabies and other communicable skin conditions as a consequence of being unable to afford to pay for sufficient water to bathe and to wash clothes, towels, bedding etc. as often as necessary. (If you work in an early childhood centre or school or other provider of education and care to children which may be adversely affected by changes in families’ water use patterns, you may wish to add this.)
* Impact on home gardening: Installing water meters and making water expensive may reduce people’s ability to enjoy planting flowers to beautify their neighbourhood and also restricts people’s ability to grow their own fresh fruit and vegetables, potentially reducing their nutrition and impacting adversely on their general health.
* Impact on education and community facilities: If you work in an early childhood centre, school or tertiary education provider that is already on a tight budget how will having to pay extra for water impact on the services that you offer? Will it mean cut-backs in terms of what you can offer chidlren and/or students? or increased fees? Or both?
* Other reasons: You may have other reasons for opposing the introduction of water meters, for example that once water meters are instlled it may be easier for future Councils to privatise the water supply: Please express these in any email you may write.
REASONS TO OPPOSE THE INTRODUCTION OF “SMART” WATER METERS SPECIFICALLY
* Health reasons:
1) “Smart” water meters use radiofrequency radiation (RFR) in the microwave range to send information about water use and this radiation is considered a “possible carcinogen” by the International Agency on Cancer. (See: http://microwavenews.com/short-takes-archive/iarc-publishes-rf-cancer-review.)
2) People who are sensitive to electromagnetic radiation may suffer from increased symptoms if “smart” water meters are introduced given that these meters produce RFR. For more information about how people who are sensitive to electromagnetic radiation and the challenges they face, please see these links:
NB: There is no information on how many people are affected in NZ because NZ does not keep statistics. However, in Sweden where good statistics are kept, three percent of the adult population is known to be affected by sensitivity to electromagnetic radiation, also variously known as EHS, ES or EMS. As you will see from the links above, life is very difficult for people who are sensitive to electromagnetic radiation and they certainly do not deserve to be further burdened with extra EMR from “smart” water meters when analogue meters are available, if the Council wants to introduce water meters.
* Potential adverse impacts on wildlife:
The US Department of the Interior has cited substantial research that shows RFR has an adverse effect on wildlife and that current US standards (which, like the comparable National Standard in NZ are designed to protect ONLY against thermal injuries and shocks) provide in inadequate protection for wildlife. (Please see this link for details: http://www.takebackyourpower.net/news/2014/03/27/us-department-of-interior-attacks-fccs-exposure-standards-out-of-date-and-inapplicable/
If the Waikato District Council plans to link up “smart” water meters with WEL Network Ltd’s “smart boxes” there will likely be an increase in the use of 900 MHz frequencies that have been cited by the US Dept of the Interior as harming birds.
GENERAL ADVICE FOR WRITING AN EMAIL
1) Start with your name and address
(If you are not in the Waikato District Council but are writing, for example, because you are concerned about friends or family in the area, or because you are a health professional with an interest in public health issues or you or your environmental group are concerned about adverse effects on wildlife, etc. please specify, this when you introduce yourself at the beginning of the email.)
Suggested format for rest of email:
Dear Sirs/Madams, [if you are writing the same email to everyone]
I am a resident of [your town] OR I am writing on behalf of [your business/community organisation]
I am writing to ask you to vote against any proposal to introduce water meters and/or smart water meters because
[List your reasons]
[Add any other comments you may want to make; bearing in mind that short emails are more likely to be read than long emails.]
Thank you for taking the time to read this email.
Yours sincerely/ Naku noa, na,
[Your organisation, if writing on behalf of an organisation]
September 25, 2014: An update on this issue is at this link: www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/waikato-district-council-vote-on-water-meters-and-smart-water-meters/
URGENT: The Waikato District Council is having an extraordinary meeting on August 19 during which they will decide (among other things) whether to accept a resolution relating to “smart” water meters.
The wording of the relevant portion of the item on the agenda is “that the Council continue to monitor the progression of smart water metering technology with a view to implement the technol0gy when it becomes cost effective and proven in NZ.”*
Given that there has already been a trial of “smart” water meters in Tauranga (see this link:http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/smart-water-meters-in-nz-the-situation-so-far/
and a trial is ongoing in Tairua (see this link: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/tairua-smart-water-meter-update/ ) it may not be long before the Council may consider that the technology is proven for NZ – and the Council may consider it cost effective, given that “smart” water meters can potentially be integrated with the so-called “smart boxes” (actually Landis+Gyr smart meters) being installed by Waikato lines company WEL Networks Ltd.
(Please see this link http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/government-and-electricity-industry-positions/is-the-wel-smart-box-a-way-to-facilitate-smart-water-metering/ for how “smart” water meters may be integrated with “smart boxes”.
The Council will also be discussing whether to pass a resolution regarding the installation of water meters in Ngaruwahia, Huntly and Raglan.
Water meters of any type are controversial because they usually result in an increase in the amount of money home and businesses end up paying to their Council each year.
Charging for water potentially has public health impacts, especially for low income families who may have to cut back on water use and consequently be more vulnerable health problems associated with poorer hygiene such as impetigo, scabies and other communicable conditions that can be spread via towels, clothing and bedding that are not washed sufficiently regularly.
If you would like to do something to help:
* Please email the mayor and Councillors stating your opposition to “smart” water meters
You can find their emails here http://www.waikatodistrict.govt.nz/Your-Council/Mayor-and-councillors.aspx and I will be posting template letters to make this easy to do later; please check back at this site later.
* Please alert all your friends and family in the Waikato region to this issue by sharing this post.
* Please tell all friends and family in the Waikato region that it is NOT compulsory to have a WEL smart box installed and to refuse its installation. Without WEL smart box installations to collect the data from “smart” water meters, it may not be economically feasible to install “smart” water meters. (Please see this link for information on WEL smart boxes and how they are NOT compulsory: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/shame-on-you-wel-networks-ltd/
Also please see this link on potential health impacts of the WEL Networks Ltd “smart box”: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/government-and-electricity-industry-positions/is-the-wel-smart-box-a-health-hazard/
(If this link is not working when you click on it, please copy and paste it into your browser. Thank you.)
*You can read the full text of the agenda of the meeting at the link below.
An update on this issue is at this link: www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/waikato-district-council-vote-on-water-meters-and-smart-water-meters/
If you live in Hamilton or elsewhere in the Waikato you may be offered a “smart box” by WEL.
This so-called “smart box” is actually a Landis+Gyr E350 “smart meter”, which like all the “smart meters” in use in NZ, produces radio frequency radiation (RFR) in the microwave range which has been classified as a type 2B possible carcinogen.
A document from WEL’s website purporting to show that the WEL “smart box” is safe because its emissions are lower than the NZ government standard for radiofrequency radiation has now been de-bunked by electropollution consultant Paul Waddell from www.safespace.net.nz.
The document which reports on testing of the WEL “smart box” uses two techniques commonly used by industry to make “smart meter” emissions seem lower than they actually are.
The first technique used involves averaging of the brief pulses of radiofrequency radiation (RFR) over a longer time period, rather than reporting the strength of each pulse in real time.
The second technique used in the document is to report on the strength of the RFR as a percentage of New Zealand’s National Standard for RFR, rather than using the actual figure for RFR in standard units (such as microwatts per square metre or microwatts per square centimetre, for example.)
NZ’s national standard NZS 2772.1:1999 is designed to protect against thermal injury caused by RFR in the microwave range, not any other possible adverse effects. Thus, a report that presents data about “smart meter” emissions as percentage of this standard, without disclosing that the NZS2772.1 : 1999 is designed to prevent shocks and thermal injury rather than assure protection from other adverse effects, may be interpreted by readers to mean that emission from the “smart meter” do not pose any risk to health.
Paul Waddell has used the information provided by the person who tested the WEL “smart box” and annotated the document with the actual values of the RFR pulses produced by this device.
You will notice that the non time-averaged values for the pulses of RFR produced by the WEL “smart box” are very high; up to 599,950 microwatts per square metre in a worst case scenario, although other values were lower.
To put this into context, the upper limit for exposure to RFR suggested by the scientists who collaborated on the BioInitiative Report (www.bioinititative.org) is 1,000 microwatts per square metre.
The guidelines used by people trained in Building Biology* considers any exposure to RFR over 1,000 microwatts per square meter to be of “extreme concern”. (See http://www.emfacts.com/2008/07/910-building-biology-evaluation-guidelines/)
The document may be downloaded here:
RF fields from a WEL Networks Smart Meter with comments by PW.
NB: Although WEL’s website suggest that there is a government requirement to have a “smart box” there is no law or regulation which forces you to accept a “smart box” if you do not want one. Other people have successfully refused a WEL “smart box” and you can, too.
Please see this link for more information: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/wel-smart-box-installation-prevented/
*Building Biology is a discipline which aims to create homes and other buildings that foster good health, through the use of non-toxic building materials, design that minimises occupants’ exposure to EMF/EMF levels etc.
A 2013 article in the Waikato Times suggests that one reason for the introduction of WEL’s “smart boxes” may be to facilitate “smart” water meters in the Hamilton and Waikato area. Leaving aside the potential health concerns with “smart boxes” and “smart” water meters, introduction of water metering is controversial in Hamilton, due to people’s concerns that it will increase costs. In cities where water meters have been introduced, such as Auckland, water bills may be $80 per month for a family of four – in addition to rates, adding to the cost of living.
According to the Waikato Times:
“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.” http://www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/news/9282623/Water-meters-may-be-closer-than-you-think
(Site editor’s note: I have since made enquiries about this trial with Waikato District Council and was advised that the trial did not take place.)
If you are in the WEL area, and do not want to have the additional exposure to the radiofrequency radiation produced by a WEL “smart box” you are within your rights to refuse the installation of a WEL “smart box”. For an example of a letter that prevent a WEL “smart box” installation, please see this link: www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/wel-smart-box-installation-prevented/
For a general discussion of “smart” water metering in NZ, please see this link: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/smart-water-meters-in-nz-the-situation-so-far/