Ofwat accelerates rollout of 462,000 smart water meters in England

Ofwat accelerates rollout of 462,000 smart water meters in England
Image: Severn Trent Water

Seven smart water meter schemes are set for accelerated rollout as part of a £2.2 billion ($2.8 billion) plan approved by Britain’s water regulator Ofwat.

The seven schemes, on which work should start imminently, are planned to accelerate the installation of a total of 462,000 smart meters before the end of 2025 as part of a drive to increase resilience to drought by helping to reduce demand and enabling more rapid identification of leaks.

Climate change, population growth and abstraction reductions are putting increasing pressure on drought resilience, according to Ofwat, citing a National Infrastructure Commission estimation that in England there is a 25% chance of the worst drought in recorded history within the next 30 years.

The seven smart meter schemes are located in the southern half of England, which is the more heavily populated but also more prone to potential water stress.

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Anglian Water plans to deliver 60,000 smart meters with the aim to achieve 1.3Ml/d in water savings by developing a near-real time understanding of customers’ usage to support reductions and through proactive identification of leaks.

Severn Trent Water plans 250,000 smart meters with the aim to achieve 11.3Ml/d in water savings by facilitating behaviour change, identifying leaks quicker and better management of peak demand pressures.

South West Water plans 40,116 smart meters around the water-stressed Colliford area in Cornwall with the aim to achieve 1.2Ml/d in water savings by monitoring near real-time flows to better manage demand and identify leaks quicker.

Affinity Water plans 20,000 smart meters with the aim to achieve 0.3Ml/d in water savings by increasing water efficiency. The company also intends the scheme to provide more learning on the benefits of smart metering and to reduce the delivery risk of its future smart metering rollout.

Portsmouth Water plans to focus initially primarily on the AMI infrastructure, including a meter data management system, cloud storage infrastructure, software and system implementation and integration, for a smart meter rollout in the period 2025-2030. This first phase also includes a 500 smart meter trial.

The company also intends an additional 43,300 smart meter rollout from 2025 on, which are expected to deliver water savings of 2.5Ml/d by March 2030.

South Staffordshire Water, including Cambridge Water, plans to deliver two schemes with a total of 91,400 smart meters in both household and non-household properties, with the aim to achieve 5.4Ml/d in water savings by reducing water demand and quicker leak identification.

Other projects given the green light by Ofwat include ten schemes to tackle storm overflows, reducing the number by around an expected 10,000 per year, and six water supply schemes to provide an additional 75Ml/d of water once completed, as well as three nutrient neutrality schemes.

Several of the other water companies submitted smart metering proposals among others, but these were deemed not to meet the criteria for accelerated funding and delivery and are recommended for continuation either via acceleration at own risk or under the existing smart meter programmes.

With the recent call from the UK government’s Environment Agency for further acceleration of smart water meter deployments for reductions in demand and leakages, more attention will be focussed on this issue in the months and years ahead.

Currently, about 14% of water-metered households have smart meters, corresponding to about 2.4 million smart water meters.