Tackling the challenge before it happens

Many of Sydney Water’s assets – including its network of 46,000km of pipes, treatment plants, pumping stations and reservoirs – are in remote locations, a demanding and complex maintenance task to manage over a large operating area.

Currently, trunk main assets are successfully monitored and controlled using SCADA technology. When it comes to distribution networks, however, this becomes a more challenging task, with customer feedback the main channel for sensing problems.

Sydney Water was looking for the capability to predict and proactively prevent faults from impacting customers. Telstra was able to provide a digital solution to facilitate monitoring its smaller assets using Internet of Things (IoT) technology.

Exploring possible solutions

Together, Sydney Water and Telstra developed a Proof of Concept (PoC) to enable Sydney Water to evaluate the business case in using IoT for water management.

The project comprised four key use cases: sewer blockage, environmental overflows, water pressure and digital metering. All were aimed at providing better customer outcomes.

The first two cases used over 250 devices and advanced algorithms to monitor sewer levels and flows. This allowed Sydney Water to preemptively stop pipe blockages and overflows which could impact both customers and the environment.

The third use case deployed sensors on the distribution network to provide data on water pressure to predict and help prevent leaks and other incidents, including water theft.

The fourth use case was to assess the value of digital water meters on customer properties. This showed digital metering can help to detect leaks in customers’ properties or surrounding networks, helping to minimise water wastage and assist in providing customers with more accurate water bills.

Confidence for the future

The PoC approach has been a success for Sydney Water, with the project winning the Committee for Sydney’s 2018 Smart City Award for ‘Best NSW Government Initiative’.

The success of the PoC project resulted in the Sydney Water Executive approving a further roll out of the technology to 10,000 additional locations.

To date, the program has helped to detect 37 wastewater blockages that could have resulted in customer or environmental impacts, as well as a potential overflow that could have affected more than 4,000 properties.

In addition, it has demonstrated that installing digital meters in customer properties can detect leaks at 8-10 per cent of all properties.

Together, Sydney Water and Telstra are striving to bring the benefits of IoT to the water industry.

Telstra is working with device manufacturers to optimise LTE-M and NB-IoT devices on Telstra’s IoT network, including improved battery life, better operation in challenging environments, improved digital water meter functionality and interoperability standards.

Telstra’s IoT water solution brings together Telstra’s IoT platform and comprehensive IoT network. This has given Sydney Water the opportunity to try multiple solutions and explore how IoT can help it care for the environment and its customers.

This partner content was brought to you by Telstra. Visit to find out more.

Charlotte Pordage is Editor of Utility magazine, a position she has held since November 2018. She joined the team as an Associate Editor in October 2017, after sharpening her writing and editing skills across a range of print and digital publications. Charlotte graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2011 with joint honours in English and Latin. When she's not putting together Australia's only dedicated utility magazine, she can usually be found riding her horse or curled up with a good book.

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