I have been living in the small Namibian town of Ongwediva for almost three years now. My monthly water bills have never gone beyond N$1,000. I, however, got the shock of my life when I opened my water bill for the month of August, 2015. I discovered that I was owing the Ongwediva Town Council nearly N$5,000.

Of course, I was owing them N$851.92 from the previous month. But I literally couldn’t find any explanation for the extra N$4,067.6 that appeared on my bill. According to the bill, the previous reading was 2617 cubic metres while the “present” meter reading was 2830 cubic metres.

The consumption, which is the difference between the two readings, was a staggering 213 cubic metres! Figure 1 shows the section of the bill that contains details of the meter readings and the amount due for the month of August, 2015.

Meter Readings in August 2015

Figure 1: Meter Readings and Amount Due in August 2015

On the other hand, in the month of July, 2015, the previous reading was 2601 cubic metres while the “present” reading was 2617 cubic metres giving a consumption of 16 cubic metres! Figure 2 shows the section of the bill that contains details of the meter readings and the amount due for the month of July, 2015.

Meter Reading in July 2015

Figure 2: Meter Readings and Amount Due in July 2015

My household water consumption had increased by 2131.25%. I kept on pondering as to what would have caused such an astronomic increase. My immediate thought was that maybe the meter reading team had just been estimating my meter readings for a long time and finally they took the actual meter reading from my premises. This scenario seemed more and more likely as I kept on thinking.

My day was completely messed up by that time. I couldn’t work anymore. I started thinking about how I would pay the unexpected heavy water bill. I eventually decided that I will meet the water people at the town council and agree with them on an arrangement that would enable me to pay them their money in two or three instalments.

But some second thoughts sprang up in mind. I started thinking that maybe the meter reading team made a mistake either at the time of collecting the reading or at the time of capturing the numbers on the computer. So I decided to knock off early with a sole aim of going home and checking if my water meter was showing a reading north of 2830.

When I checked the meter, I was treated to a very sweet and pleasant surprise. The actual meter reading at that time was 2642 cubic metres way below the 2830, which was on the bill. The meter reading personnel had mistake by inadvertently changing the digit “6” to “8”.

I captured the images of the meter, showing the reading at that time, on my phone. I took the images to the Water department of my local town. They accepted that there was a problem and are now rectifying it. Figure 3 shows the correct reading of the meter that I captured on my phone.

Water Meter Reading

Figure 3: Actual Water Meter Reading

This experience has strengthened my resolve to continue researching on Smart Water Metering Networks. I will also continue encouraging the water utility and the town councils and municipalities to start investing in Smart Water. I am already in the process of joining the Smart Water Networks Forum, where I have the chance to interact with the Smart Water gurus such as TaKaDu‘s Amir Peleg, who has been described as Israel’s Water Ninja by Bloomberg.