“Smart” water meters are currently being trialled in Tairua on the Coromandel and are being considered by the Waikato District Council (see links below for details).
The report at this link http://smartgridawareness.org/2015/02/13/how-smart-water-meters-invade-privacy/
outlines how smart water meters can infringe people’s privacy.
NB: If you are interested in the smart meter issue, please sign up to the free email list on www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz Thank you.
Tairua smart water meter trial
Waikato District Council plans for smart water meters
General smart water meter information in NZ
Documents obtained under the Official Information Act show that Hamilton City Council has been considering installing water meters, including smart water meters, since 2012.
Below you can read the reply I received when I made a request under the Local Government Official Information Act for information regarding the Hamilton City Council’s plans regarding water meters, and supporting documentation is attached below the text of the email.
If you live in Hamilton and do not want water meters in general or smart water meters in particular you may wish to make your views known to the Council. The water meters that have been trialled to date in NZ produce pulses of radiofrequency radiation (RFR) in the microwave range every 8 seconds. This radiation has been classified as a possible carcinogen. (You can read about the health and environmental concerns with smart water meters at this link:
If smart water meters were installed in Hamilton they could add considerably to the “EMR” smog in the city.
It appears likely that the WEL Network Ltd so-called “smart box” (actually a smart meter) may be able to be teamed up with “smart” water meters to collect the data from “smart” water meters. (See this link for a discussion of this issue.) It is NOT compulsory to have a smart box if you do not want one. Please see these links for information on the smart box issue:
Email received in response to request for information on water meters, including smart water meters
Sent: Friday, 19 September 2014 2:50 p.m.
To: Katherine Smith
Subject: FW: OFFICIAL INFORMATION REQUEST RESPONSE – KATHERINE SMITH – WATER METER BOXES IN FAIRFIELD
Please find below Hamilton City Council’s (HCC) response to your Official Information request, dated 6th August 2014, in respect of the water meter boxes installed in Fairfield.
Regarding the recently installed water meter boxes in Fairfield, Hamilton
- i) What are the names of the streets in which these boxes were installed
- ii) What is the total number of water meter boxes installed?
iii) Were the boxes installed by staff employed directly by the Council?
- iv) If yes, what was the cost of the actual water meter boxes?
- v) If yes, what was the estimated cost of the Council staff labour used in installing the water meter boxes?
- vi) If the Council contracted out the installation of the water meter boxes to another party what is the name of the company to which this contract was awarded?
vii) What is the total value of this contract?
viii) Please supply a copy of the contract for the installation of the water meter boxes.
Toby Boxes, which can be utilised to house water meters, have been installed in Sare Cresent, Fairfield. There were a total of 51 boxes installed. The installation was completed by HCC staff at an estimated labour cost of $11.25 per box. HCC did not contract out the installation of water meter boxes in Fairfield.
HCC is unable to disclose the cost of the Toby boxes, as these were supplied under contract and the cost is considered commercially sensitive. Consequently, the Information in respect of the cost of the Toby Boxes is withheld under Section 7(2)(b)(ii) of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 – in that release would be likely to unreasonably prejudice the commercial position of a person who supplied or is the subject of the information.
Please supply copies of all other documents including but not limited to, email correspondence, minutes of meetings, internal memos, advice received, etc. relating to the installation of the water meter boxes in Fairfield.
The only correspondence Council has on record is your Official Information Request.
Please supply copies of all correspondence between Council staff and/or councillors with WEL Networks Ltd, or their agents, regarding possible integration of WEL Networks Ltd “smart boxes” with Council infrastructure.
Please supply copies of all Council documents (including but not limited to, minutes of meetings, internal memos, advice received, etc.) regarding possible integration of WEL Networks Ltd “smart boxes” with Council infrastructure.
Please find attached copies of information, as requested, which HCC considers can be made available to you in accordance with the purposes of LGOIMA and the principle of availability.
Copies of some information has been withheld under the following sections of the of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 as follows:
Section 7(2)(b)(i) – in that release would disclose a trade secret. The information is withheld on the grounds that providing this information would disclose a trade secret belonging to WEL.
Section 7(2)(b)(ii) – in that release would be likely to unreasonably prejudice the commercial position of a person who supplied or is the subject of the information. The information is withheld on the grounds that it would unreasonably prejudice the commercial position of WEL.
Please be advised that the withheld information is in the form of a proposed MOU and confidentiality agreement that WEL has put to HCC relating to HCC being an observer and having the opportunity to learn from a technology trial with Smart Metering.
If you have any concerns with the decisions referred to in this letter, you have the right to request an investigation and review by the Ombudsman under section 27(3) of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987. For your information, the Ombudsman’s contact details are:
Post: PO Box 10152, Wellington 6143
Telephone:0800 802 602
I must apologise that there was a delay in replying to your request.
If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.
On Behalf of the Privacy Officer
Other documentation supplied by the Hamilton City Council
In addition to the email above, the following document was supplied by Hamilton City Council.
Communications between HCC and WEL (3)
In mid-August 2014 I found out that the Waikato District Council was planning to vote on adopting water meters in Huntly, Ngaruwahia and Raglan and that the Council also would also vote on whether to continue to monitor smart water meters in NZ “with a view to implement when the technology when it becomes cost effective and proven in NZ.”
I subsequently wrote to the Council to inform the Mayor and Councillors about the potential health risks from wireless “smart” water meters, and encouraged other people to write as well.
Please see these links for details:
Unfortunately, the Council voted in favour of the resolution, as you can see from the document below. Two Councillors did not support the motion. (Click on the image to make it bigger.)
NB: If you live in the Waikato District Council area and are concerned about this issue, please contact me through this link: https://stopsmartmeters.org.nz/contact-us/
Just a reminder that there will be a talk on smart meters at WellFest in Auckland on September 20…full details at this link:
If you live in this area and do not want water meters or “smart” water meters, please make your opinions known; Please make a submission by August 22. (The link above has details how to do this.)
Please also let friends and family in this area know about the consultation.
INFORMATION TO HELP YOU MAKE A SUBMISSION
The links below provide information on the current status of “smart” water meters in NZ. (Like “smart” electricity meters, “smart” water meters use radiation frequency radiation in the microwave to send information about water use.)
The lower of the two links also includes information about the potential downsides of water meters in general. If you would like to make a submission regarding water meters in general and/or smart meters, you may find the information at these links helpful.
Please encourage friends and family in the Matamata-Piako area to also contribute to the consultation. A short statement outlining your concerns about water meters in general and/or your about the potential health impacts of “smart” water meters is all that is required to contribute to this consultation.
NB: If you email Councillors about the smart water meter issue, please consider emailing through the Contact form at this link https://stopsmartmeters.org.nz/contact-us/ to me know what response you receive. Many thanks.
September 25, 2014: An update on this issue is at this link: www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/waikato-district-council-vote-on-water-meters-and-smart-water-meters/
URGENT: The Waikato District Council is having an extraordinary meeting on August 19 during which they will decide (among other things) whether to accept a resolution relating to “smart” water meters.
The wording of the relevant portion of the item on the agenda is “that the Council continue to monitor the progression of smart water metering technology with a view to implement the technol0gy when it becomes cost effective and proven in NZ.”*
Given that there has already been a trial of “smart” water meters in Tauranga (see this link:https://stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/smart-water-meters-in-nz-the-situation-so-far/
and a trial is ongoing in Tairua (see this link: https://stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/tairua-smart-water-meter-update/ ) it may not be long before the Council may consider that the technology is proven for NZ – and the Council may consider it cost effective, given that “smart” water meters can potentially be integrated with the so-called “smart boxes” (actually Landis+Gyr smart meters) being installed by Waikato lines company WEL Networks Ltd.
(Please see this link https://stopsmartmeters.org.nz/government-and-electricity-industry-positions/is-the-wel-smart-box-a-way-to-facilitate-smart-water-metering/ for how “smart” water meters may be integrated with “smart boxes”.
The Council will also be discussing whether to pass a resolution regarding the installation of water meters in Ngaruwahia, Huntly and Raglan.
Water meters of any type are controversial because they usually result in an increase in the amount of money home and businesses end up paying to their Council each year.
Charging for water potentially has public health impacts, especially for low income families who may have to cut back on water use and consequently be more vulnerable health problems associated with poorer hygiene such as impetigo, scabies and other communicable conditions that can be spread via towels, clothing and bedding that are not washed sufficiently regularly.
If you would like to do something to help:
* Please email the mayor and Councillors stating your opposition to “smart” water meters
You can find their emails here http://www.waikatodistrict.govt.nz/Your-Council/Mayor-and-councillors.aspx and I will be posting template letters to make this easy to do later; please check back at this site later.
* Please alert all your friends and family in the Waikato region to this issue by sharing this post.
* Please tell all friends and family in the Waikato region that it is NOT compulsory to have a WEL smart box installed and to refuse its installation. Without WEL smart box installations to collect the data from “smart” water meters, it may not be economically feasible to install “smart” water meters. (Please see this link for information on WEL smart boxes and how they are NOT compulsory: https://stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/shame-on-you-wel-networks-ltd/
Also please see this link on potential health impacts of the WEL Networks Ltd “smart box”: https://stopsmartmeters.org.nz/government-and-electricity-industry-positions/is-the-wel-smart-box-a-health-hazard/
(If this link is not working when you click on it, please copy and paste it into your browser. Thank you.)
*You can read the full text of the agenda of the meeting at the link below.
An update on this issue is at this link: www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/waikato-district-council-vote-on-water-meters-and-smart-water-meters/
On Thursday or Friday (April 24 or 25, 2014) I put in a request under the Official Information Act to the Thames-Coromandel District Council for information about the trail of “smart” water meters planned for the town of Tairua on the Coromandel Peninsula during May 2014. I addressed the request to Mr Bruce Hinson, who is the Thames Coromandel Council Infrastructure Manager.
On Wednesday (April 30), I received an email from a member of the engineering team stating that the Council could answer my questions, but it would cost me $114 – and payment was required before they would action the request. (Under the Official Information Act (OIA) councils and other government agencies are allowed to charge for time to prepare answers to OIA requests, but they do not usually do so.) The tone of the email was friendly, so I decided to phone the respondent to discuss the matter, so that is what I did on May 2, 2014.
I spoke at length to a very personable young man who recently graduated from university with a degree in civil and environmental engineering who is working on the “smart” water meter trial. He explained that the Council’s objective in trialing the “smart” water meters was to better manage water for Tairua.
Rationale for the trial of “smart” water meters in Tairua
Water for the town of Tairua is drawn from a river, which naturally carries lower water volumes during summer when demand for water peaks due to an influx of people arriving for summer holidays in their baches. (People “go crazy” washing things, he said, during the two weeks of the year that they live in their holiday homes.) The Thames-Coromandel Council had an obligation under its resource consent for drawing water from the river not to create an excessive impact on the river system, he said, the implication being that “smart” water meters could help achieve this. Currently there are no water meters in Tairua, he said. “Smart” water meters were considered by the team to be a better option than conventional meters because there was no need to physically access the meter box (such as by prying up the meter box cover) to get a reading, and the potential for human error in reading meters was eliminated by the wireless transmission of data.
We did not discuss what other measures, if any, the Council has trialled to reduce or better manage water demand at the peak time of year, such, as for example, public education campaigns to promote water conservation and/or promotion of installation of rain water tanks to supplement the town water supply for some applications. (This was an oversight on my part.)
Technical aspects of the “smart” water meters being trialled in Tairua
The young engineer was excited by the results of the trial so far, in which an initial test had shown that the signal from one of the “smart” water meters could be detected 600 metres from the “smart” meter, despite buildings and trees being in the way between the water meter and receiver.
The “smart” meter chosen by the Council for Tairua is the Sappel Altair Concentric V3 meter supplied in NZ by Hynds. The Council has chosen to use the 434MHz option for the transmission frequency (which presumably means that the Council engineering team has chosen to team up the meters with the Diehl IZAR RC radio transmitter.) 434 MHz is a public frequency also utilised by some common gadgets such as automatic garage door openers. However, the manufacturer of the IZAR RC radio transmitter designed to be compatible with Sappel modular meter states that its transmission range is “500 metres, depending on the environment”, so it is obviously much more powerful than a garage door opening gizmo. (In practice, as above, the transmission range may be longer than the manufacturer’s specifications.)
According to the engineer, the “‘smart” meters chosen will be transmitting every eight seconds. (The battery life of the for the transmitter is claimed by the manufacturer to be 15 years, without any sort of guarantee that this will actually be the case.) The Council is exploring different ideas for reading the meters, I was told. The trial is using a handheld or drive-by system in which a portable device is used to collect the data from the “smart” water meters as they transmit. The transmitters on the meters are unidirectional. One option the Council team is considering for the ongoing collection of data is to have a receiver mounted in the rubbish trucks which make weekly rounds of the towns to collect garbage, thereby eliminating the need for a separate vehicle (or person on foot) to patrol the streets to collect the data. This is considered an attractive option because it would reduce the cost associated with gathering data from the “smart” meters.
Possible implications for privacy if the trial is considered successful
The IZAR transmitters that are compatible with the Sappel meters used in the Tairua trial have the capacity to be used with a fixed “IZAR RECEIVER GPRS/LAN” system which is capable of collecting all the data from “smart” water meters, storing it and then transferring it to a central computer system. If the Thames-Coromandel District Council were happy with the results of the Tairua trial and chose this option for collection of data from “smart” water meters, this potentially raises privacy concerns, since if the meters transmit data every eight seconds, it should be theoretically possible to use the data to work out patterns of activity in a household, based on patterns of water consumption, in a similar way in which patterns of activity in a household can be inferred from electricity use. (See the graphic at this link http://www.smartmeterpowerstruggle.wordpress.com/ for an example of how electricity “smart meters” can compromise privacy, and for a discussion of privacy and home security issues please see these links: https://stopsmartmeters.org.nz/government-and-electricity-industry-positions/network-tasman-there-are-no-privacy-concerns-with-smart-meters-yeah-right/ and www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/how-smart-meters-can-help-burglars/.)
About 25% of households and businesses in Tairua have been selected by the Council to participate the in trial. (The properties chosen have been selected on the basis of ensuring that they represent different types of properties (i.e. permanent residential, holiday homes and business) and different areas of the town.) By contrast, the trial of “smart” water meters in Tauranga was limited to one suburb. (See this link for a discussion of the trial of “smart” water meters in Tauranga: https://stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/smart-water-meters-in-nz-the-situation-so-far/.)
Considering that each “smart” water meter used in the Tairua trial will transmit every eight seconds around the clock for a distance of up to half a kilometre (or possibly more) at the 434MHZ frequency, the “smart” water meter trial in Tairua may represent an experiment in exposure of an entire town to this particular frequency at levels that are unique in the history of NZ.
People who have electrohypersensitivity (EHS)** may be adversely affected by this trial. Overseas, concern has been raised that exposure to the non-ionising radiation produced by “smart” meters used to measure electricity consumption appears to act as a trigger for the development of EHS in some people. (See: http://skyvisionsolutions.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/aaem-wireless-smart-meter-case-studies.pdf ) In NZ, many of the “smart” meters being introduced for electricity are designed to transmit for longer distances (“a few kilometres”), according to the PDF “Smart-Meter-FAQ-Aug11.pdf” on the website of the Electricity Authority, so electricity “smart” meters are obviously more powerful than are “smart” water meters. Moreover, as the strength of the signal from any “smart” meter declines with distance, “smart” electricity meters which are typically mounted on the wall of a home probably pose more of a risk than “smart” water meters on council property. (Presumably these will be installed in the footpath, as are the conventional “water” meters in Auckland.) However, the possibility that “smart” water meters may trigger EHS cannot be ruled out and the longer term effects of living in an area where “smart” waters meters transmit every eight seconds twenty four hours a day must be considered an unknown.
Possible outcome of the trial
If the trial is successful, conceivably the Thames-Tairua District Council may choose to introduce “smart” water meters in other towns in its region.
Pe0ple in Tairua (or elsewhere in the area administered by the Thames-Tairua District Council) who are not happy with the idea of being exposed to additional electromagnetic radiation from “smart” water meters may wish to notify the Council that they do not consent to the installation of a “smart” water meter to measure water consumption at their home or business. A template that can be personalised may be downloaded from the link below:
FORMAL NOTICE OF NON CONSENT FOR SMART WATER METER
Please share this post with family and friends in this area.
More information on smart water meters in NZ may be found at this post: www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/smart-water-meters-in-nz-the-situation-so-far/
**Information on electrohypersensitivity may be found at this link: http://www.es-uk.info/
For a personal story which illustrates how difficult a condition EHS is for sufferers to live with, please see this link: https://stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/what-is-it-like-to-live-with-electrohypersensitivity-ehs-one-womans-story/
Health professionals may want to read this link: http://www.scribd.com/doc/87308119/Guideline-of-the-Austrian-Medical-Association-for-the-diagnosis-and-treatment-of-EMF-related-health-problems-and-illnesses-EMF-syndrome
A 2013 article in the Waikato Times suggests that one reason for the introduction of WEL’s “smart boxes” may be to facilitate “smart” water meters in the Hamilton and Waikato area. Leaving aside the potential health concerns with “smart boxes” and “smart” water meters, introduction of water metering is controversial in Hamilton, due to people’s concerns that it will increase costs. In cities where water meters have been introduced, such as Auckland, water bills may be $80 per month for a family of four – in addition to rates, adding to the cost of living.
According to the Waikato Times:
“In September last year, Mr Ninnes briefed Mr Allen on WEL Networks’ progress rolling out its electricity smart meter technology, and expectations that every property in Hamilton will be connected to the company’s new network through a fully functioning WEL Networks smart box by the middle of this year.
“Mr Ninnes then told Mr Allen he had just brought together a specialist team to develop a smart water meter “proof of concept” to demonstrate the smart boxes could also support water meters, feeding information directly to WEL.
“He discussed a small field trial of smart water meters connected to Raglan properties already hooked up to WEL Networks’ completed smart network.” http://www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/news/9282623/Water-meters-may-be-closer-than-you-think
(Site editor’s note: I have since made enquiries about this trial with Waikato District Council and was advised that the trial did not take place.)
If you are in the WEL area, and do not want to have the additional exposure to the radiofrequency radiation produced by a WEL “smart box” you are within your rights to refuse the installation of a WEL “smart box”. For an example of a letter that prevent a WEL “smart box” installation, please see this link: www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/wel-smart-box-installation-prevented/
For a general discussion of “smart” water metering in NZ, please see this link: https://stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/smart-water-meters-in-nz-the-situation-so-far/