SA Water is embarking on a ground-breaking water meter trial in South Australia’s mid-north, progressing with an industry-leading project to make water services more accessible to over 1.7 million customers.

In a first for the Southern Hemisphere, SA Water customer Frank is trialling an innovative ‘groundbreaker’ insulated box which allows the property’s water meter to be raised from the ground to eye level.

SA Water’s General Manager of Customer Delivery, Kerry Rowlands, said Frank, a resident in his seventies, suggested the SA Water team investigate new ways to help elderly customers keep an eye on their water usage.

“While water meters are usually found hidden away at ground level where our network of water mains meets customer pipes, this can make it tough for those with limited eyesight or restricted mobility to access their meter safely,” Ms Rowlands said.

“Having listened to Frank’s concerns and ideas, our team has come back with this technology from the United Kingdom allowing his meter to be raised to eye level, making it easier to read.

“Created from recycled materials, the box’s insulation also means the meter can continue to function as normal while protecting it from the region’s sub-zero winter morning frosts.

“Frank has so far provided great feedback on his new meter, and we look forward to working together on getting as much information as we can to assess the capabilities of this trial in the future.”

The trial is part of SA Water’s Wider World initiative, which has identified up to 15 possible initiatives to improve water services for customers living with a disability or medical condition, including simplified water bills and eventually, potential bill relief for customers with high needs.

Further changes on the horizon include reducing the use of forms in customer interactions, which present a barrier for people with visual or cognitive disabilities, and offering more responses through email, which over 30 per cent of customers with communication challenges rely on instead of phone contact.

“With customers at the heart of everything we do at SA Water, we want to make sure that anyone with any form of disability or mobility impairment can access services that best meet their needs,” Ms Rowlands said.

“We estimate that there are around 100,000 of our customers that, like Frank, find it tough to easily read their meters, and this is a great example of how new technology could improve water services for everyone.”

Siobhan Day is the Assistant Editor of Utility magazine and Pump Industry magazine, and has been part of the team since early 2019. With a background in management in the non-profit sector, Siobhan has extensive experience in communications, professional writing and client management. She holds a Bachelor of Business and Communications and is currently completing a postgraduate degree.

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