Water Tight Blog

Water Meter Separation

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Purpose – In almost all cases the purpose of separating water meters is so that the costs of the water bill can be divided between multiple parties based on their consumption. In rarer cases, the purpose may be due to flow issues resulting between the two properties, such as inadequate flow during peak demands. 

More often than not, the real need for separating water consumption is because it can cause angst between neighbours. Unfortunately, I have been on a site on several occasions with multiple residents and heard them scream at each other because “Mz Jones waters her rose’s even when its clearly going to rain this afternoon” or “why does he need to wash his car every single week”. Whilst I am a better plumber than a psychologist, if I was to look at this reasonably I would suggest that the fear of losing out causes far more angst than the actual loss of dollars when it comes to separating water consumption. For that reason, if you can rid the angst for a reasonable price it can make a much better living arrangement for all those involved.   

There are two methods of separating your consumption.

Method 1 – Icon Water Separation – (Complete Separation)

Icon Water is the ACT water authority and is responsible for the water mains and the supplying branch line coming from the water main and going to your Icon Water meter that is servicing your property. You will notice they are the organisation who issue you with a water bill each quarter. 

Each new Icon Water meter must have its own direct connection to the Water Main. ie, it is not just a case of installing a branch tee in the water line before the existing Icon Water meter and then having two meters installed. 

Due to the fact, an entirely new branch line from the Icon Water water main to the new water meter is required, the job becomes far more complicated, requiring 

  1. Professional design and plans being required by a hydraulic engineer, 
  2. Pre-approval of the hydraulic design by Icon Water, 
  3. Now that we have an approved design, a plumber can assess your internal pipework configuration and give you an accurate quote for the physical work that needs to take place 
  4. Customer approves the plumber’s quote
  5. The plumber excavates the water main exposing it for Icon Water 
  6. Icon Water attend to site for the installation of a new water mains tapping to allow connection of the new branch line pipework, 
  7. Your plumber then installs the Icon Water branch water line from the water mains to the new water meter location including the new water meter. 
    • Note – Often, (50% of the time) the water meter is installed on the opposite side of the road, so this will involve boring under a road  
  8. The hydraulic engineer then attends site and inspects the work and signs off that it has been done to standard  
  9. The hydraulic engineer completes a work as executed plan and issues it to Icon Water for approval
  10. Your plumber then makes alterations to the customer’s pipework (downstream of the existing water meter) so that the two properties have their own water lines. This will usually involve installing a new water line from the newly installed water meter to the furthest away property. 
  11. Now that all this work has been done, you “the customer”, calls Icon Water and arranges for them to separate the two water accounts. 

All customers want to know, What will the end cost be? 

Stage 1 – Hydraulic Design and Submission to Icon Water (Required before further quotes can be provided) – Estimate $2500

Stage 2 – Plumbing Site Assessment to locate internal pipes and the approved Hydraulic Plans $300

Stage 3 – Icon Water Fee’s

Stage 4 – Plumbers Fees For actually carrying out the work (Varies greatly based on what is required both inside the boundary and outside the boundary. The best case could be $10000 however costs could be double or even more than this for the actual work to be completed) 

The end result is that both customers have their own Icon Water meter and account and receive individual water bills each quarter. There is normally a water line running through the front properties land heading to the back property. There are two sections to a standard water invoice. A supply charge and a consumption charge. Now that you have two meters you will both be charged a supply charge  

Given the total costs of this work will likely exceed $15000, and that $15000 buys you an awful lot of water, you would really want to consider whether this is worthwhile for you or not. 

Method 2 – Installation of Deduct Meters

The alternative to installing separate Icon Water meters is to install deduct meters. 

A deduct water meter is a water meter that is owned and maintained by the residents, not Icon Water. 

The process for installing deduct meters is far simpler. 

  1. A plumber attends site and assesses the existing water line installation. Pending on the existing installation, this may require line tracing or other advanced equipment.
  2. Your plumber then provides a quote and installs deduct water meters directly on the existing water lines in a cost-effective location.

Result – you have the ability to measure water consumption and have not had to dig trenches through your property or across council land/under roads. You avoid needing to pay for a separate supply fee and these water meters can be read and assessed regularly to calculate water consumption between the residents. 

Calculating your water consumption

Method 2A – Self Calculations
4 x PA, one or both of the residents can read the water meter’s and calculate the consumption of each resident. When an Icon Water invoice arrives at the property, you can split the single supply charge and break down the consumption costs based on the consumption of each unit. Each resident can then make payment of their share of the water bill.  

Method 2B – Plumbing Preventative Maintenance Plan Manual Readings
With a maintenance plan we would attend to site multiple times per year and take readings of your site water meters. When an Icon Water invoice arrives, the customer would send us a copy, usually by scanning a QR code on a magnet on their fridge, and our office would then break down the charges and provide all residents with a recommended split of the bill.  Many customers already have in place scheduled preventative maintenance plans where we come to site multiple times per year to conduct general maintenance, such as gutter cleaning, sump cleaning, drain cleaning, servicing of gas appliances, etc. In these cases, there is minimal additional cost to simply tack on water meter reading to their existing plan. 

Method 2C – Water Tight Canberra Automated Smart Meter Reading’s
An alternative to method 2b, where we have to physically attend site multiple times per year to read the water meter, is we can upgrade your water meters so that they can be read via the internet using a wifi connected data logger. The initial installation costs are slightly higher, however, if you do not require site visits for general maintenance the ongoing costs are much more efficient, the data is more accurate as we can view consumption on the same dates as the Icon Water meter invoice is relating to. We would then break down the charges and provide all residents with a recommended split of the bill. This setup can use either an independent internet connection or alternatively, can use a customers WIFI signal to save on costs.

Method 2D – Customer Read, Water Tight Calculations
Another alternative to method 2b, where we have to physically attend site multiple times per year to read the water meter, is the customer can manually read the water meter, take a photo, and upload it to us with their Icon Water invoice. We would then break down the charges and provide all residents with a recommended split of the bill. 

For customers that want a truly automated experience on either Method B, C, or D we can even provide additional service where we debit our calculated amounts from your own credit cards and pay your invoice for you.    

Total costs can vary pending on your existing water pipe locations and how your water pipes have been run. For the most simple installations, (2A where all pipework is ideal,) you could be looking at around $1000. For a more complex installation where multiple meters are required and data loggers are installed, you could be looking at around $3000 where pipework is installed in relatively easy locations.

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