Is this the answer to unfair water bill sharing?


One of the careless consequences of apartment developers’ cost-savings, especially in many older blocks, has been the single communal water meter that sees your water bills shared on the basis of your unit entitlements, rather than actual usage.

That means a single pensioner living in a three-bedroom apartment could be paying more for their water bills than a multi-occupant two-bedder or, even worse, a unit let to holidaying families on Airbnb.

Now a Gold Coast-based and family owned company, Fair Water Meters is offering an affordable solution to ensure apartment and townhouse residents are only paying for the water they use.

Fair Water Meters’ WaterMark certified and Pattern Approved meters mean strata owners and tenants can measure their own water consumption – meaning they only pay for what they use, instead of ‘splitting the bill’ with their neighbours.

The German-designed meters which have been customised and approved for use in Australia and New Zealand, can be quickly retrofitted into existing apartments, simply by replacing the stop valves on water pipes.

“This is the tap that turns off water to all outlets within the apartment or office and is sometimes in the laundry or bathroom,” says Fair Water Meters General Manager Mary Terblanche. “Our meters allow people to save money by only paying for the water they actually use.”

There’s another benefit – the meters reveal in monthly reports if you have hidden leaks in your apartment or townhouse. One block where they were installed discovere one-third of the apartments had leaks.

The meters are read via radio frequency to operators outside the buildings where they are installed.

Chris Terblanche, who is Fair Water Meter’s Technical Engineer, said there are around two million apartments across Australia that do not have an individual water metering capability.

“Our water meters have an inbuilt radio AMR module it means read-out panels and reed switches are a thing of the past, with radiofrequency (RF) meter-reading now the new reality as monthly meter reads can be completed offsite quickly and easily.

“We can literally drive by with our special tablet and instantly record water usage from each of our meters.”

Water usage is one of the most significant factors in apartment block sustainability, due to the energy cost of pumping the water to higher floors so that gravity can do its job. Using water at someone else’s expense doesn’t encourage conservation or moderation.

Mary and Chris’ daughter Jacqui Tennent says it was her strong interest in sustainability that led her to join the family business.

“I’m a big believer that ‘If you can measure it, you can manage it’ so developing a cost-effective solution that empowered people to manage water usage and be able to quickly detect leaks was one of the key reasons I wanted to get behind my parents with this business,” she said.

“Our sub meters feature an industry-first automatic leak detection and alerting capability. Combined with simplified water usage measurement, users are on the right path to reducing water consumption and contributing positively to the sustainability of this precious resource.

“For every meter installed we also make a donation to The Ocean Clean-up, whose aim is to rid the oceans of plastic, so I like to think that in some small way we are helping to make the world a better place, not just in people’s communities but for future generations.”

Fair Water Meters offers two options – the ECO Inline Meter created for use on exposed pipework, and the ECO Valve Meter designed for concealed valves.

One obstacle for NSW and Victoria owners planning to install the meters could be getting around strata laws that insist all payments have to be made according to unit entitlements. You wouldn’t want to be paying for your own water usage, and still forking out for a share of everyone else’s.

However, FairWaters’ owners have a 12 years of experience in guiding Queensland body corporates through the changes in by-laws required to allow separate metering. And they already have several installations up and running in NSW, with plans to expand into other states.

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One Reply to “Is this the answer to unfair water bill sharing?”

  1. Neale says:

    The whirring sound of an instant hot water system is a bit of a giveaway, which makes it obvious that some people in a single water meter strata building thoroughly enjoy their half-hour showers. Those owners are only paying a small part of the water usage charges — the rest of the owners get to subsidise the psychological needs of the cleaner-than-clean owners. The prospect of separate water metering sounds like a great concept to me, as long as it is legally binding.

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