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