“Smart” water meters are currently being trialled in Tairua on the Coromandel and are being considered by the Waikato District Council (see links below for details).
The report at this link http://smartgridawareness.org/2015/02/13/how-smart-water-meters-invade-privacy/
outlines how smart water meters can infringe people’s privacy.
NB: If you are interested in the smart meter issue, please sign up to the free email list on www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz Thank you.
Tairua smart water meter trial
Waikato District Council plans for smart water meters
General smart water meter information in NZ
If you live in this area and do not want water meters or “smart” water meters, please make your opinions known; Please make a submission by August 22. (The link above has details how to do this.)
Please also let friends and family in this area know about the consultation.
INFORMATION TO HELP YOU MAKE A SUBMISSION
The links below provide information on the current status of “smart” water meters in NZ. (Like “smart” electricity meters, “smart” water meters use radiation frequency radiation in the microwave to send information about water use.)
The lower of the two links also includes information about the potential downsides of water meters in general. If you would like to make a submission regarding water meters in general and/or smart meters, you may find the information at these links helpful.
Please encourage friends and family in the Matamata-Piako area to also contribute to the consultation. A short statement outlining your concerns about water meters in general and/or your about the potential health impacts of “smart” water meters is all that is required to contribute to this consultation.
NB: If you email Councillors about the smart water meter issue, please consider emailing through the Contact form at this link http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/contact-us/ to me know what response you receive. Many thanks.
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/
On Thursday or Friday (April 24 or 25, 2014) I put in a request under the Official Information Act to the Thames-Coromandel District Council for information about the trail of “smart” water meters planned for the town of Tairua on the Coromandel Peninsula during May 2014. I addressed the request to Mr Bruce Hinson, who is the Thames Coromandel Council Infrastructure Manager.
On Wednesday (April 30), I received an email from a member of the engineering team stating that the Council could answer my questions, but it would cost me $114 – and payment was required before they would action the request. (Under the Official Information Act (OIA) councils and other government agencies are allowed to charge for time to prepare answers to OIA requests, but they do not usually do so.) The tone of the email was friendly, so I decided to phone the respondent to discuss the matter, so that is what I did on May 2, 2014.
I spoke at length to a very personable young man who recently graduated from university with a degree in civil and environmental engineering who is working on the “smart” water meter trial. He explained that the Council’s objective in trialing the “smart” water meters was to better manage water for Tairua.
Rationale for the trial of “smart” water meters in Tairua
Water for the town of Tairua is drawn from a river, which naturally carries lower water volumes during summer when demand for water peaks due to an influx of people arriving for summer holidays in their baches. (People “go crazy” washing things, he said, during the two weeks of the year that they live in their holiday homes.) The Thames-Coromandel Council had an obligation under its resource consent for drawing water from the river not to create an excessive impact on the river system, he said, the implication being that “smart” water meters could help achieve this. Currently there are no water meters in Tairua, he said. “Smart” water meters were considered by the team to be a better option than conventional meters because there was no need to physically access the meter box (such as by prying up the meter box cover) to get a reading, and the potential for human error in reading meters was eliminated by the wireless transmission of data.
We did not discuss what other measures, if any, the Council has trialled to reduce or better manage water demand at the peak time of year, such, as for example, public education campaigns to promote water conservation and/or promotion of installation of rain water tanks to supplement the town water supply for some applications. (This was an oversight on my part.)
Technical aspects of the “smart” water meters being trialled in Tairua
The young engineer was excited by the results of the trial so far, in which an initial test had shown that the signal from one of the “smart” water meters could be detected 600 metres from the “smart” meter, despite buildings and trees being in the way between the water meter and receiver.
The “smart” meter chosen by the Council for Tairua is the Sappel Altair Concentric V3 meter supplied in NZ by Hynds. The Council has chosen to use the 434MHz option for the transmission frequency (which presumably means that the Council engineering team has chosen to team up the meters with the Diehl IZAR RC radio transmitter.) 434 MHz is a public frequency also utilised by some common gadgets such as automatic garage door openers. However, the manufacturer of the IZAR RC radio transmitter designed to be compatible with Sappel modular meter states that its transmission range is “500 metres, depending on the environment”, so it is obviously much more powerful than a garage door opening gizmo. (In practice, as above, the transmission range may be longer than the manufacturer’s specifications.)
According to the engineer, the “‘smart” meters chosen will be transmitting every eight seconds. (The battery life of the for the transmitter is claimed by the manufacturer to be 15 years, without any sort of guarantee that this will actually be the case.) The Council is exploring different ideas for reading the meters, I was told. The trial is using a handheld or drive-by system in which a portable device is used to collect the data from the “smart” water meters as they transmit. The transmitters on the meters are unidirectional. One option the Council team is considering for the ongoing collection of data is to have a receiver mounted in the rubbish trucks which make weekly rounds of the towns to collect garbage, thereby eliminating the need for a separate vehicle (or person on foot) to patrol the streets to collect the data. This is considered an attractive option because it would reduce the cost associated with gathering data from the “smart” meters.
Possible implications for privacy if the trial is considered successful
The IZAR transmitters that are compatible with the Sappel meters used in the Tairua trial have the capacity to be used with a fixed “IZAR RECEIVER GPRS/LAN” system which is capable of collecting all the data from “smart” water meters, storing it and then transferring it to a central computer system. If the Thames-Coromandel District Council were happy with the results of the Tairua trial and chose this option for collection of data from “smart” water meters, 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/.)
About 25% of households and businesses in Tairua have been selected by the Council to participate the in trial. (The properties chosen have been selected on the basis of ensuring that they represent different types of properties (i.e. permanent residential, holiday homes and business) and different areas of the town.) By contrast, the trial of “smart” water meters in Tauranga was limited to one suburb. (See this link for a discussion of the trial of “smart” water meters in Tauranga: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/smart-water-meters-in-nz-the-situation-so-far/.)
Considering that each “smart” water meter used in the Tairua trial will transmit every eight seconds around the clock for a distance of up to half a kilometre (or possibly more) at the 434MHZ frequency, the “smart” water meter trial in Tairua may represent an experiment in exposure of an entire town to this particular frequency at levels that are unique in the history of NZ.
People who have electrohypersensitivity (EHS)** may be adversely affected by this trial. Overseas, concern has been raised that exposure to the non-ionising radiation produced by “smart” meters used to measure electricity consumption appears to act as a trigger for the development of EHS in some people. (See: http://skyvisionsolutions.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/aaem-wireless-smart-meter-case-studies.pdf ) In NZ, many of the “smart” meters being introduced for electricity are designed to transmit for longer distances (“a few kilometres”), according to the PDF “Smart-Meter-FAQ-Aug11.pdf” on the website of the Electricity Authority, so electricity “smart” meters are obviously more powerful than are “smart” water meters. Moreover, as the strength of the signal from any “smart” meter declines with distance, “smart” electricity meters which are typically mounted on the wall of a home probably pose more of a risk than “smart” water meters on council property. (Presumably these will be installed in the footpath, as are the conventional “water” meters in Auckland.) However, the possibility that “smart” water meters may trigger EHS cannot be ruled out and the longer term effects of living in an area where “smart” waters meters transmit every eight seconds twenty four hours a day must be considered an unknown.
Possible outcome of the trial
If the trial is successful, conceivably the Thames-Tairua District Council may choose to introduce “smart” water meters in other towns in its region.
Pe0ple in Tairua (or elsewhere in the area administered by the Thames-Tairua District Council) who are not happy with the idea of being exposed to additional electromagnetic radiation from “smart” water meters may wish to notify the Council that they do not consent to the installation of a “smart” water meter to measure water consumption at their home or business. A template that can be personalised may be downloaded from the link below:
FORMAL NOTICE OF NON CONSENT FOR SMART WATER METER
Please share this post with family and friends in this area.
More information on smart water meters in NZ may be found at this post: www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/smart-water-meters-in-nz-the-situation-so-far/
**Information on electrohypersensitivity may be found at this link: http://www.es-uk.info/
For a personal story which illustrates how difficult a condition EHS is for sufferers to live with, please see this link: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/what-is-it-like-to-live-with-electrohypersensitivity-ehs-one-womans-story/
Health professionals may want to read this link: http://www.scribd.com/doc/87308119/Guideline-of-the-Austrian-Medical-Association-for-the-diagnosis-and-treatment-of-EMF-related-health-problems-and-illnesses-EMF-syndrome
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.”
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/