How to read new Cape Town smart Water Demand Meters

The City of Cape Town is installing water demand meters called smart Water Management Devises (WMD) across the city, reportedly at a rate of over 2000 per week.  More than just demand meters, the WMDs have a smart capability which can help households manage their water consumption, and they have a leak detection facility.  The meters are currently an aid to the City in meeting its drought water consumption targets by actively managing and reducing water demand from high consumers.  The meters have the capability to switch off or reduce the supply to a trickle once the daily (350l) and or (monthly 10500l) water allocation has been reached.

Many of the new water meters are Honeywell model number C-BKX 8055 as in the picture below. Based on the number of queries addressed to this website, it appears that many households are confused about how the meters work and how to read them.  This is an issue as the WMDs are mostly being installed on properties with previous high consumption.  It is essential therefore that these households understand how to read the WMDs so that they can monitor their daily consumption and not run out of water before they run out of day.

2018 Water Demand Meter being fitted by City of CT (2)

The mechanical part of the meter is fairly familiar.  Water consumption is recorded in the row of 7 windows – 3 red and 4 white in the display next to the red on / off lever  See the example below.

0 0 1 9 9 6 2

The numbers in the red windows record the litres while the numbers in white record the kilolitres (or thousands of litres).  Using the above example, the reading is 19 kilolitres (or 19 thousand litres) and nine hundred and sixty two litres.  Note that as soon as all the numbers in red record 999 and one more litre is used then the meter will roll over to read 20 kilolitres.  The City only charges for the kilolitres consumed.

The screen with the electronic display on the left hand side next to the blue lid relates to the `smart meter’ component of the WMD It has a number of features, but what do they measure / tell us?  A friendly City technician explained the following while installing a smart meter in my street.  The digital screen has two basic screen views which switch alternatively between total consumption and current consumption.  The total consumption is identified by an M (for meter) that appears with the record of consumption and must be the same as the consumption displayed in the row of white & red windows discussed above.  The second screen identified with an L (for litres) is important for households on a daily limit as it counts down the daily consumption allocation.

If the screen records CLOSE you need to contact the City urgently as there is possibly to be a problem with the meter.  The city technician explained that it is possible that the meter resent back to factory setting.  Unless the daily or monthly consumption limit has been reached!!!  For Water Management Devise faults sms the City on 063 407 3699 or phone on 0860 10 30 89.

Permanent features on the screen include the symbol for the battery life (a stack of bars in the top LH corner) and the water drop symbol which is a leak detector.  If the water drop flickers this indicates a potential leak on the private property side of the meter.  The leak drop is activated if the meter picks up a constant background water flow over a few days.  This may also indicate that a tap has not been fully closed somewhere.  Either way it is a helpful identification of hidden water consumption or loss.

The battery is designed to last 5 years.  When the battery dies the mechanical part of the meter will still work and will record the consumption.  The battery should however be replaced as this is essential for the smart metering to function.  In the longer term when there has been widespread roll out of the meters, the meter reader will be able to read the meters remotely – as long as the battery is live.

If the WMD has been programmed to limit water demand  it will typically dispense 350 litres per a day and once this has been used the water is cut off until it resets at 4:00 am the next day. If the full daily allocation of 350 liters is not used, it will roll over to the next day.  There is also a maximum monthly allocation of 10.5 kiloliters.  Unused water from the monthly allocation is not rolled over to the new month.  Only the water used is charged for.

Two costs best avoided are:  having to pay for a WMD because of either account defaults or continual high consumption. In the case of high consumers the cost of the City installing a meter is currently R4500 unless the household qualifies as indigent, in which case the installation is free.   Secondly,there is a R5000 fine for tampering with the meter.

It is important to take note of the new Water Restriction 6B daily consumption target of 50litres per person per day.  This translates into consumption of 6000 litres or 6 kilolitres per 4 person household per  month.  The new water tariffs are also a costly incentive to keep water consumption as low as possible.    Click on the link to view the new tariffs complied by the Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance.     2018 02 GCTCA New Water Tariff Cost To Domestic ConsumerV2

For info from the City Website on Water Management Devises go to:

Installation of a water management device (English)
Installation of a water management device (Afrikaans)
Installation of a water management device (isiXhosa)

Or see the Water Management Device for New Home Owners Flyer

You can also watch our videos on WMDs in three languages:
Water Management Device for Residential Market (Afrikaans)
Water Management Device for Residential Market (English)
Water Management Device for Residential Market (Xhosa) 

Kim Kruyshaar February 2018

If your old water meter confuses you go to http://greenaudits.co.za/how-to-read-your-water-meter/

 

 

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19 Responses to How to read new Cape Town smart Water Demand Meters

  1. Andrew February 13, 2018 at 8:25 am #

    My meter say “CLOSE”. What does that mean.

    • admin February 13, 2018 at 12:09 pm #

      Are you still getting water? You need to report a fault – either sms 063 407 3699 to report your fault or phone the City on 0860 10 30 54. Good luck.

  2. Shaheed Mahomed February 15, 2018 at 9:13 pm #

    There is no sabs stamp, nor is there an icasa stamp, nor has it been tested for effects of radiation it emits. Most batteries do not last one year, many devices leak. Many are forced to pay R4500 even though they are not high water users. Applications for extra water, due to high numbers of people staying on a plot are ignored by the City. The law says that if the meters are non compliant, they should be removed, so why are they still installed?

  3. Deborah February 21, 2018 at 10:36 am #

    Hi,

    I think our WMD is faulty.

    Some days we receive our 350l allocation, some days we don’t. On the days that we do, sometimes we get to use the full 350l, sometimes it is shut off (reading CLOSED) after only a few litres of water consumption. This is too random to be a consistent leak somewhere, so I can only think that the devise is faulty.

    We cannot get through to the 0860 10 30 54 number – it just rings and rings for 45+ minutes at a time. I have just sent an sms to the number above (thank you), but I am not holding out much hope. What else to do?!

    Thanks

    • admin February 21, 2018 at 12:07 pm #

      Really frustrating. What about contacting your Sub- council Manager and asking him / her to get the district water team to help you. Also report this to your ward Councillor as they are supposed to be our support people when we can’t get through to the relevant city officials. That said, I am also battling to get through to a water management official at the city. will let you know if I have any joy.

  4. Mark McFadyen February 27, 2018 at 6:51 pm #

    Please can you help me I live in a complex where I rent a unit from my Landlord when I signed the lease it included free water ,they have since installed separate meters to each unit, can I apply for a free WMD unit for my unit;

    • admin March 1, 2018 at 3:29 pm #

      Hi Mark, as i understand, only households that apply for indigent support would qualify for a free WMD. If your complex has now installed separate meters for each unit, why would you want a Water Management Device? Is there an issue with you not having access to the meter readings for your unit? You are entitled to verify the water consumption being recorded for your unit for two reasons. 1 If you are going to be charged for water you need to see how many litres you are being charged for. 2 without access to the meter you have no way of determining whether your household is keeping to the prescribed 50 litres per person per day. If you need a smart meter to manage your consumption then it is likely that you will need to pay for one – unless you can persuade your landlord that a WMD is a capital investment and a tax deductible expense that will benefit him / her. DriY smart meters from Leakfind are a good option as they offer remote monitoring and management. they cost about 2x the simpler City WMDs.

  5. Iks March 2, 2018 at 7:10 pm #

    If you have a WMD (blue) meter on your property and capped with the daily limit of 350lt per day which cuts off after the 350lt is used up for the day, is it still possible to receive a water bill of R3881.31 + sewerage R1450.00??

    NB. The meter shows no leaks as well as we do not even use the entire 10.5kl per month.

    Please assist!!!

    • admin March 3, 2018 at 12:11 am #

      IF you used your full 10,5kl allocation, your water bill (excluding sewerage) would be in the order of R415,56. So way below what you have been charged. And yes the new meters are supposed to pick up a leak – and if you have a leak then you would surely exceed the 10,5kl allocation. So what’s happening. You may be one of the households that has been affected by a new billing system hiccup. As of 1 January 2018, the City moved from a third party electronic platform to an in-house electronic interface system for the uploading the monthly water meter readings. Since this move, there have been technical challenges with uploading meter readings to the new system. As a result, some customers will receive estimated bills although their meter was read. It appears that the estimated bills are based on consumption for the same period in the previous year but at the level 6 B tariff. I do not work for the city so can’t say this is true in your case but it appears likely. In recognition of the reduced consumption due to the drought the City is adjusting the system from 1 March to use an average of the past 3 months. Tricky if the `in -house electronic interface’ treats them as estimated readings. Residents can avoid estimated bills by submitting their own meter reading via the e- service system. To find out more about the e-service system go to link: http://www.capetown.gov.za/Family%20and%20home/residential-utility-services/residential-water-and-sanitation-services/water-meter-readings. You can whatsapp your request for a correct bill including your account number to 063 407 3699 or phone the call centre on 0860 103 089. hope you get this resolved soon.

      • Elmari April 30, 2018 at 11:31 am #

        I have the same problem … this month got sms to say CCT bill almost R9000 … usually not more than R3000 and that incl R&T’s, sewerage (just NOT electricity) … also have WMD which CCT say I get 350L per day … last month also had higher water bill, this month it’s almost tripple … IMPOSSIBLE … unless the meter is faulty … I hope CCT take responsibility for faulty accounts and WMD problems since apparently a household can only apply for rebate once ever (reason why WMD was installed) … PS: also no leakages … and even if there were the water measurement devise would have switched water off once limit has been reached … at Milnerton Munisipality presently in cue to see what is going on with my accont and enquire how they are going to fix problem and write off sky high water bill … sure thjs is going to be a ‘fun’ exersize … maybe even story worthy to share with Carte Blanche …

  6. Mondray March 10, 2018 at 5:52 pm #

    Hi There can you please tell me if we get 350 liters of water a day and we have used that all but some water still comes through the tap, but very slow and it show on the meter -42 what does this -42 means.

    • admin March 13, 2018 at 11:08 am #

      Hi trying and its frustrating to get City to respond to the many questions people have about how the new meters work and how to read the messages on the digital display. A GUESS in the meantime to answer your questions. As water is a constitutional right i believe the City may not cut off supply if you have exceeded the daily allocation but then reduces it to a trickle to drastically reduce your consumption. MAYBE the -42 means that the meter is counting off your next day’s allocation of 350ltrs. If you have more than 4 people living in your home you can apply for a larger daily allocation of water. That said, please remember that we are required to use no more than 50ltrs per person per day until our dam levels are fully recharged. Day Zero has been suspended but if we do not get good winter rains and if we do not continue to be super efficient with our water use, Day Zero may happen in 2019. Our farmers have taken a big knock with their water allocations being stopped so that the Cape Metro does not run out of water. In the interests of food security and farm worker employment we need to ensure that the farmers get a fair share of the Cape’s water resources – so efficiency is the new water responsibility of all of us. (farmers too!)

    • Elmari April 30, 2018 at 11:39 am #

      When I had water leakage a few months back my water was switched off (not even a trinkle got thru) … just giving you my 5 cents worth … also, the meter suppose to safegaurd you of massive water accounts (thats why it’s installed) … never ever had a minus ready in the week I had no water before leak detection could fix problem in Jan 2018 … PS: also then discovered the CCT said I got 350L per day, but then when subcontractor came out the WMD was only set on just over 100L per day … it worries me that there areso many variances … it should be black and white, not grey 🙈

  7. Gilmore Lineville March 23, 2018 at 7:31 pm #

    My smart meter display is just dead. What does that mean? As when the screen died so did my water supply stop.

  8. Tony May 2, 2018 at 8:46 pm #

    My Meter Reads CLOSED, and shows maximum monthly usage, but it is only the beginning of the month? does the meter open on a certain day each month or do i need to call the city council to do it manually?

  9. Pieter May 4, 2018 at 5:12 pm #

    When will the monthly allocation of 10.5kl reset if the WMD was installed on 18 April 2018?

    Thanx

  10. Al May 15, 2018 at 11:50 pm #

    Hello,

    We recently had a WMD installed &; we are fascinated by it.

    Do you know if it’s possible to source a remote display for inside the house.

    It’ll save peering down a dark hole at night to take readings.

    thanks
    Al

    • admin May 23, 2018 at 5:10 pm #

      From what I understand, the manufacturers are busy developing the system to do this. The technology exists but needs to be packaged and produced. Then we will have to purchase the component as an added value item as it is unlikely the City will provide this with the standard WMD package. But it beats going out and reading the meter to monitor it. Do you know the brand / manufacturer of the meter the City installed? I believe they have two supplier contracts for WMDs. You could contact the supplier about the possibility and time scales for a remote reader.

  11. Mr Henry June 2, 2018 at 12:09 pm #

    Hi
    Our meter shows Close from the 1st June 2018..
    Have whatsapp / sms no reply.. Phoned the 0860 number on my bill after 15minutes agent assisted and logged a complaint..
    Reference Dear Customer. CCT Service Request 9105312362 for No Water WDM has been logged.
    Apparently technicians need to reset the new unit.. What inconvenience
    Thanks Mr H. PRETORIUS

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