Digital metering: what could possibly go wrong?

Intelligent Water Networks (IWN) has developed a unique and valuable risk assessment tool for Victorian water businesses considering a move to digital metering.

‘The Digital Metering Risk Assessment Tool (DMRAT) is a prime example of the industry-led collaboration and innovation made possible by the IWN,’ says Neil Brennan, Chair of the IWN.

‘Many Victorian water businesses are contemplating digital metering, with some already working on business cases for consideration by their customers, Boards, the State Government and other stakeholders.

‘To ensure that these businesses cases are robust, all risks associated with digital metering must be identified, along with appropriate mitigations.'

 'If we separately engaged an expert consultant to complete our own risk assessments, it would cost up to $50,000 per business,’ says Virginia Collins, from Yarra Valley Water – leader of the DMRAT project, for the IWN.

‘Since all water businesses face common issues with digital metering, the IWN provided the platform to combine the resources of multiple stakeholders, do this work once and share the results across the industry.

‘As well as making significant savings in consultant fees, collaboration also allowed us to collate the collective knowledge of experienced personnel from multiple water businesses, ensuring a more thorough risk analysis.’

The development of the DMRAT was fully funded by the IWN, which is funded through member organization contributions. Yarra Valley Water managed the project, under a steering committee of representatives from other water businesses.

Oakley Greenwood was selected as the consultant on the project, after a tender process.

‘Oakley Greenwood facilitated a series of three full-day workshops to identify digital metering risks and mitigations. These were attended by 19 people, representing 14 water corporations, the IWN Executive Group and VicWater,’ Ms Collins says.

‘In addition, the consultant interviewed external stakeholders, including the Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria, the Essential Services Commission, the Water Services Association of Australia, and Victorian Government departments.

‘Nearly 200 risks associated with digital metering were identified through this process, along with recommended mitigations.’

The comprehensive list of potential risks produced through the IWN project includes those associated with customer perceptions, technology failures, data management and protection challenges, contractor problems, OH&S matters, environmental hazards, industrial relations issues, legal troubles, financial risks, vandalism, and more.

The risks and proposed mitigations were considered in the context of various business scenarios.

‘Different water businesses will make different technological and operational choices regarding digital metering, which change the associated risks, their weightings, and the possible mitigations,’ explains Ms Collins.

‘For example, one water business might choose ‘bleeding-edge’ metering and communications technologies, and an operational model involving multiple contractors and high frequency meter readings. Their risks will obviously be different to those of a business selecting well-established technology, keeping operations inhouse and opting for less frequent meter readings.

‘It became clear in the first workshop that the DMRAT would need to be flexible in order to accommodate a variety of users. We developed a range of five different hypothetical business scenarios, within which we considered and weighted associated risks, and identified appropriate mitigations.

‘Consequently, the DMRAT provides customised data – the user makes technological and operational choices and the tool adapts its outputs,’ Ms Collins says.

‘The DMRAT is unique in Australia – nothing else comes close. Victorian water businesses using this tool can take the next step towards digital metering with confidence that their risk analysis is of the highest possible standard.

‘I’m proud of this project and proud to be part of the IWN, providing our member water businesses with solutions that optimise expenditure and create positive outcomes for our customers.’

Inquiries from Victorian water corporations regarding access to the DMRAT should be addressed to Tanya Pearson, IWN Acting Assistant Program Director.

New projects approved in April

Two new projects have been approved during the month.  The first project, known as Pumpcheckr, uses smart technology and programming to identify how efficiently pumps are running, and identify when best to perform maintenance. This project is being managed by Trent Newton at North East Water.

The second project approved is to test the effectiveness of using Bitrex (an anti-ingestant) to identify cross-connections in class A recycled water supply systems. This project will be managed by Yarra Valley Water.  To learn more contact Luke Dickson.

New IWN Champions Initiative

IWN has launched a revised Champions program based on feedback from members.

The new Champion role places a greater emphasis on professional development and leadership opportunities.

IWN will improve the support it provides to Champions and empower them to drive IWN-related activities within their water corporation, region and the wider industry.

To give the new initiative a flying start, the inaugural IWN Champions Workshop was held from 28–29 October 2015. 

This event brought together all the Champions to introduce the enhanced role, facilitate relationship development and identify opportunities for future IWN projects.

An opportunity for professional and leadership development was also provided at the workshop for these emerging industry leaders.

A full list of the IWN Champions can be viewed on the IWN website.

M - Files

IWN is about to move into a new era of document management, where your documents are stored and accessed according to what they are rather than where they are.

M-Files is a proven document management system that is easy to use and integrates with your existing software to make saving and finding information really efficient – allowing water businesses to share information about IWN projects and data.

The rollout of the system and associated training has started this month and plans and contact is being made with CIO's within the industry.

Features included in M-Files are:
• Easily search for IWN documents based on what they are – you don’t have to remember where you saved something, rather search for a topic and you will be able to find your documents as well as any other relevant documents stored in the library
• Version control – you can be confident that only the latest version of a document is being modified, no matter who is working on it
• Collaboration with your colleagues with the click of a mouse
• Access to your documents anywhere through the online portal


Programs snapshot

Leak Detection and Pipe Rover Program
• CSIRO are scheduled to present their findings to the project team on 10 November on the recently completed trials of Pipescan+ in conjunction with CSIRO and JD7.
• Trials using Fibre Optics are currently being scoped with a service provider. There are multiple uses for this technology including water main leak detection, pipeline pressure monitoring, identification of illegal connections and infrastructure security.
• A potential trial using satellite imagery to identify leaks is also being investigated.

Asset Performance and Energy Optimisation Program (new program of work)
Business cases are currently being prepared for five projects:
• Collaborative Electricity Procurement
• Wastewater treatment operations optimisation
• Industry scale generation investment paper
• Real time adaptive energy performance  management through environmental sensors
• Decision model for electricity load shifting

Information, Analytics and Real-time System Optimisation Program
Flagship EOI proposals currently being assessed see article in this newsletter

Intelligent Water Metering Program
A business case being prepared for the preparation of an Industry Risk Assessment for Intelligent Metering implementation.  

Intelligent metering

Intelligent metering

Pipe Rover

Pipe Rover

IWN Expressions of Interest for flagship program participation

Expressions of Interest have recently closed for an exciting flagship pilot program to trial new, emerging, or existing intelligent water & wastewater network platforms that may be fully implemented into the Victorian water industry in the future.

The IWN Executive Group has invited the private sector to submit proposals to trial new, emerging or existing technologies that could improve the water industry’s operational services and efficiency.

IWN is looking for products, tools or systems that are highly flexible, adaptive and intuitive to help the water industry make the best economic asset decisions now, while also ‘future-proofing’ our communities.

Proposals are to include:
• Full details of the technology/product
• A methodology and plan (including resourcing) for incorporating that product into a water corporation's operation
• The commercial arrangements for trial
• Potential use of that product on a ‘business as usual’ basis if proved successful.

Assistant Program Director Rowan Keeble says there was a significant level of interest in the EOI with more than a dozen companies keen to discuss the opportunity further.  Assessment of the EOIs will commence shortly with a partnership (or partnerships) to be in place by May 2016.

Welcome to the inaugural IWN newsletter.

Welcome to the inaugural IWN newsletter. It is with much pleasure that I launch this regular update to keep our members informed of IWN activities and progress on a regular basis.

IWN has recently been reinvigorated with a fresh approach to the delivery of our program by restructuring the way the Victorian Water Industry participates in IWN initiatives and programs. In particular the approach includes providing opportunity for enhancements and up-skilling of water corporation staff, with the ‘Champions’ role now having development and leadership potential.

The IWN member model is unique to Victoria and is widely recognised as leading industry collaboration to drive innovation for benefit to our customers and the environment. The role of the ‘Champion’ is seen as integral to developing innovative practices and new technologies for the benefit of the water industry.

I encourage you to read through the newsletter as there are a number of exciting initiatives currently underway which we hope you not only find interesting, but also a demonstration of our commitment to delivering results for the Victorian Water Industry and its customers.

I look forward to providing ongoing IWN program updates to in you in the future.

I’d also welcome your feedback on our newsletter or IWN.  Contact me at

Mike Walsh

Mike Walsh


New website, new contact details

IWN has now launched a new website –

It’s one of the ways we’re working to provide more information for water industry colleagues about the innovative work that’s underway. 

You can also contact IWN through our new emails:

Program director Mike Walsh –

Assistant program director Rowan Keeble at

IWN general enquiries: