Using smart technologies to sustainably improve the Caribbean water supply
Jamaican water supplier National Water Commission (NWC) has found the perfect technology to cope with the challenging weather and environmental conditions in the Caribbean by implementing 50,000 HYDRUS ultrasonic water meters. The fixed network, which was also implemented in Long Mountain, is a step further in the process of digitalising the region’s water supply.
Jamaica’s National Water Commission (NWC) is responsible for supplying water to 400,000 households with a total of over two million people. Until now, the scarcity of water in the Caribbean and the outdated infrastructure meant that it was not always possible to guarantee a reliable service.
Jamaica is ruled by extreme environmental conditions – the result being a high level of material wear for the mechanical water meters, most of which are installed in the open air. “In addition to high humidity and direct sunlight, with temperatures of up to 50° Celsius, the sand and stones often deposited in the pipelines present a major problem for the moving parts of the water meters,” explains Stefan Räder, Diehl Metering’s regional manager for the Caribbean. Sudden pressure surges in the pipelines and earth shifting from outside also present an additional risk to Jamaica’s water network: leaks.
The negative consequences for the NWC are extensive: high water production costs, incorrect consumer billing and a low life expectancy of only three to five years for the mechanical water meters. The process of reading the individual meters is also extremely time-consuming and labour-intensive.
In addition to efforts to bring about sustainable improvements in the water supply and pipelines, the NWC also focuses on minimising non-revenue water problems. (Non-revenue water is water that is fed into the distribution network but cannot be billed for various reasons, for example inaccurate measurement of consumption.)
After Jamaica’s National Water Commission had finished intensively field-testing static water meters from all leading brands over a period of 1.5 years, they decided to implement 50,000 Diehl Metering HYDRUS ultrasonic water meters.
The simple plug & play installation and an almost non-existent need for maintenance make the HYDRUS ultrasonic water meter the perfect solution for Jamaica’s demanding conditions. And thanks to the integrated radio module, walk-by and drive-by readings can be taken immediately without the need for water meter parameterisation.
A fixed network for fully automatic reading of 525 residential units has also been installed as part of a pilot project at Long Mountain, Kingston. The data is transmitted hourly, allowing NWC to monitor the whole distribution network centrally and promptly using Diehl Metering’s IZAR software. Discrepancies between quantities being fed into and out of the network are thus detected and reported automatically by way of an alarm function.
“The HYDRUS offers many benefits – not just for the NWC, but also for our customers. It allows us to sustainably improve our water supply and pipelines, as well as to minimise billing complaints, because the meters are guaranteed to be reliable throughout their entire life cycle.”Mark Barnett, NWC (President of the NWC)
The perfect technology for Jamaica’s water supply: HYDRUS static ultrasonic water meters have no moving parts, making them immune to deposits, and the robust construction means they can easily withstand pressure surges. With a battery life of up to 12 years, the HYDRUS can top the average life expectancy of at least three mechanical water meters. Ultrasound metering cannot be manipulated and always shows the exact consumption quantity at both high and low flow rates.
The fixed network, which was set up as part of a pilot project, precisely detects and locates water losses due to leaks and defects thanks to permanent, centralised monitoring. For end consumers, the reliable water supply means a vastly improved quality of life.
In addition, the new fixed network opens up new potential for NWC, paving the way for a comprehensive Smart Metering infrastructure in the future. Data, which is read fully automatically every hour, can be analysed in detail and visualised in the IZAR software. This allows for greater transparency in water billing and facilitates need-based network planning.
More than 2 million people need water supply – but the infrastructure is outdated and water is generally scarce.
Water meters installed outdoors are exposed to extreme weather conditions, such as strong sun rays.
The HYDRUS ultrasonic meter surpasses the performance of traditional water meters by a factor of three.