Astro Rosewood Regency, located on Sarjapur Road, Bengaluru, is an apartment complex of 188 flats, of which 175 are occupied. They use borewells and tanker water. However, 5 of the 6 borewells have gone dry. Even the yield of the last functioning borewell is decreasing. So, until 2020, they had to keep sing more tanker water and their water bill was increasing.
Decision to use smart water meters
The residents were concerned about high water bills. They were also aware of the need to conserve water given the water crisis in the city. Until that time, the total water cost was divided equally among households. So all households paid the same amount for water, regardless of what they actually used, which was about Rs. 1400 per month.
To address this, they considered installing water meters which would measure the amount of water used by each flat. This would provide 3 main benefits:
- Each household would be billed for the water it actually used.
- Meter readings would encourage residents to be more conscious of their water usage and hence use water more efficiently.
- Volumetric pricing could be introduced where, instead of a flat rate, a higher rate is charged for higher volumes. This would be an added incentive to use less water.
Initially, some residents were concerned about the installation and maintenance costs of the meters. However, it was expected that these costs would be offset by the savings on the water bill in a few years. Finally, after a lot of debate, the majority of residents agreed that the long term benefits outweighed the setup costs.
After analysing the different meters in the market, the Managing Committee decided on the WaterOn smart meters made by SmarterHomes due to the following benefits:
- Accurate readings
- Real time measuring, monitoring and controlling
- Detection of leaks or abnormal consumption to avoid water wastage
- Solar powered meters with a battery life of 10+ years
- The cost of the meters, installation, billing services, software and smartphone app are all included as part of a complete solution
- Smartphone app-based viewing of data and control, as shown below. For example, residents can remotely shut off the water supply to their homes through the app
Installation of meters
In early 2020, meters were installed at each water inlet of every flat. In addition, meters in 4 common areas were installed.
Impact of meters
The water bill is calculated on a quarterly basis and included within the maintenance bill. The meters gave the first reading for Q1(April – June 2020). By Q4 (Jan – March 2021), the water consumption as a whole had decreased by a third.
The average monthly water bill for the complex went down from Rs. 2.5 lakhs to 1.75 lakhs. This is a yearly savings of about Rs. 9 lakh.
With smart water meters, residents can track their water usage and change their consumption patterns to reduce their water bills. This can reduce overall water consumption considerably.
Note: Recognising the benefits of water meters, the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) introduced new regulation in May 2020 which mandates internal water meters for every flat in apartment complexes.