A NEW mobile phone system is helping farmers easily detect water leaks and decrease water waste.
Barwon Water’s new SMS alert system complements the Taggle system which is attached to 65 farmers water meters at Irrewarra and Larpent.
The Taggle systems transmits hourly data usage which creates a detailed daily consumption record which farmers can view online and helps detect abnormal water use which could be a sign of a leak.
Irrewarra farmer Bill Dullard said he liked the new SMS system because it gave busy farmers another option.
“Farmers are busy people and if you miss checking your water usage using the normal methods then this provides a back-up automatically,” Mr Dullard said.
“The SMS alert can go to any mobile so it provides an opportunity to link to other members of your family into your water management,” he said.
“I think it is also an opportunity to provide feedback further down the track as to whether the alert system settings are doing the job.”
Barwon Water strategy and planning general manager Carl Bicknell said the Taggle system provided good data, but relied on farmers accessing a website to view their water use to identify potential leaks.
“Barwon Water’s Information and Communications Technology team has developed a system that will send a text message to Taggle participants when the transmitter has detected a minimum flow of 200 litres an hour for more than 48 hours,” Mr Bicknell said.
“The alert trigger level indicates a steady flow of approximately 5000 litres a day – a potentially significant amount,” he said.
“The aim of the SMS is to alert participants that a water use irregularity may be occurring and prompt them to investigate the potential leak or view the data in more detail on the Taggle website.”
Mr Bicknell said during a trial of the SMS alert system, one farmer discovered a cracked pipe after an SMS alerted him to high flows in his system.
“Without the SMS function the leak may have gone unnoticed for weeks,” he said.
“Typically, with underground leaks of this kind, farmers may not become aware of the high water usage until they receive their quarterly water bill and see an increase in water costs.
“If this leak went unchecked until the customer’s next bill, they would have seen an increase of about $2000 in water use.”
Mr Bicknell said farms used one third of Colac’s annual water usage, and technology which helped detect leaks early would help Barwon Water manage water security while also saving customers money.
Farmers using the Taggle devices Barwon Water’s service area can opt-in for the SMS service by contacting the agricultural water adviser Tom Macdonald.