In conversation with Shannon Vermaak, Marketing Manager of Utility Systems, we learn about taking water management to a new level with smart prepaid water management devices.
Curbing municipal water losses should be a priority, not only because there won’t be enough water to go around in a few years, but also because of the financial and economic implications. South Africa spends R7 billion a year on water losses money that could be used to upgrade infrastructure and build more catchment facilities.
Aside from their ability to alert municipalities to leaks, prepaid meters also drastically reduce government’s admin costs.
Collecting data from prepaid meters is also more efficient than the manual collection required for postpaid meters. A radio link receiver can be fixed, vehicle mounted or carried by municipality personnel. Data is transmitted to the receiver as soon as it is within signal of the meter, which means that meter readers don’t ever need to enter the property. This facilitates walk drive-by meter reading and the capturing navigation of routes.
Sectional title management companies can bill more accurately with prepaid systems, instead of splitting consumption equally between units within a complex.
What is “prepaid water”?
Prepaid water means that the consumer purchases water credit in the form of a prepaid water token. When entered into the user interface unit located in the consumer’s home, the token instructs the water management device to allow a certain amount of water through the meter before closing. Consumers can track usage, load credit remotely and decrease the possibility of bill shock as a result of leakages or incorrect monitoring.
A pulse output meter can also be used to limit the water flowing to a particular area. This helps municipalities and property owners to control the amount of water used at certain outputs and prevents wastage in low-income households that can’t afford to pay for excess use of this basic need.
They can make payment in smaller, frequent increments. This prevents them from falling into debt, which can compound in a postpaid arrangement.
Who can access this technology?
This is completely dependent on the municipality. So even if you’re feeling inspired to install a smart water management device to enable prepaid water, you may not be able to based on where you live or work.
That being said, most municipalities are beginning to embrace prepaid water management technology. So it may just be a waiting game. To find out your eligibility for prepaid water, approach your municipality and ask.
If you have a garden cottage, however, you can add an additional meter and smart water management device to the building, to ensure that your tenants don’t rack up huge bills in your name and then refuse to pay, or leave.
How does it affect rental properties and bodies corporate?
The implications for rental properties and bodies corporate are significant.
Prepaid metering reduces admin to a minimum while removing the risk and frustration of late or non payment of water bills. This is why housing estates are swiftly moving to prepaid water, as they did with prepaid electricity.
Gone are the days of splitting an entire estate’s water bill by the number of units. Prepaid metering means that users pay for their consumption only.
If you’re a developer or an estate body corporate, visit the Utility Systems website www.utility systems.co.za where you’ll find a list of approved distributors.
How is it beneficial to municipalities?
Prepaid systems are a cost-effective solution to more sustainable water management in that they have a low cost of acquisition and, by curbing water usage, capital recovery is possible within months. The systems are also able to distribute water equally, based on free water quotas, water balancing and fluctuating demand.
In addition to their ability to alert municipalities to leaks, prepaid water meters can also drastically reduce government’s admin costs. This is because municipalities don’t need to chase bad debt or budget for legal fees on unpaid accounts. Public sector cash flow is immediately improved.
Is prepaid water cheaper?
No this is a myth. Prepaid and postpaid water cost exactly the same. (It is illegal to sell municipal water above the municipal tariff rate declared).
The bottom line is that even the simplest smart water management device can provide the tools to track and control water usage. Prepaid water meters are smart tools with the potential to revolutionise water conservation efforts and revenue management worldwide. But it’ll be a while before every South African household is able to benefit from this enormous potential.
Original Source: South African Property Review – 1 May 2019