Three Waters — Three solutions

Jim Luhrs
4 min readFeb 10, 2023
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Because the Water Services Legislation Bill has now been referred to the Finance and Expenditure Committee, public submissions are now open. Meaning if you want to have your say on the Three Waters system it is important to make your submissions before this Sunday, so I’m putting the final touches on my submission.

Since it’s a Three Waters bill it’s only fitting to break it down into 3 aspects: AI, Blockchain & Storage. My submissions highlight what the future of New Zealand could look like if we utilise change and capitilise on the use of technology to improve the water systems. I don’t want to bore people in this blog with a technically dense document so here is the high level of the 3 sections.

AI:
Local councils are consistently under pressure to ensure people pay for the services that they use and it is a difficult task to roll out changes in a way that is most financially responsible. For example, if you were to roll out a water meter upgrade to be able to track and charge people's water consumption it would make sense to target the people who utilise the most amount of water first.

Historically upgrades have been rolled out in large zones but this doesn’t target individual high-consumption users meaning it is far from being the most financially responsible way to roll out an upgrade. To get a better return on investment it is clearly best to start charging the high-consumption users as quickly as possible.

We can use AI technology in conjunction with aerial & satellite imagery, which councils already use, to identify the greenest of properties that often overwater their gardens.

AI can instantly detect all houses that are suspected to be well in excess of an average house & generate a list

This way you recoup your investment much faster because everybody that is paying for water is now an above-average consumer and hopefully it will also curb their water habits.

Blockchain & IoT: (credit to https://www.meterme.net/)

Put smart meters into the ground that have a bit more than the average water meter. The technology exists that we can make our water meters IoT devices meaning we can monitor our own water usage and curb water wastage habits. It’s not uncommon for people to accidentally leave their sprinkler going all night by accident, what if you got a reminder to say you left it on?

Water meters can now listen into the pipes to detect both minor & major leaks. In fact, the tech is so advanced that it can be paired with the neighboring smart meters to detect minor leaks in the main lines. If you find a leak before it becomes too large you save money, not only on water but the infrastructure cost. The cost to repair a leak that has been eroding away the earth over weeks & months that has caused a sinkhole is an enormously expensive task to fix.

Water Storage:

They do it in Australia so why don’t we do it here, rainwater collection tanks are mandated in many places in Australia and they have a two-fold benefit.

Firstly, you can water your garden with water, saving the local supply of drinkable water. The fact we water our gardens with drinkable water is a luxury we really shouldn’t be doing.

Secondly, when large rain events happen it takes the stress off the network. These days we tend to get a couple of days' warning about rain events. This lag time is enough for us to empty our water containers either into our gardens or into the stormwater supply in preparation for a large downpour.

In recent times we have seen a lot of flooding events and if we could take some of that water away from the stormwater catchment it would be great. Climate change is here to stay and we are going to see more extremes in weather conditions and water storage helps when it’s extra dry and extra wet.

Ideally, this stored rainwater will be plumbed directly into the house to refill toilets, run the washing machine, and of course the outside taps for the garden.

So if you haven’t already put in a public submission I’d encourage you to if you want your opinion to be heard, it doesn’t take long to quickly type something up.

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Jim Luhrs

Web3, Startups, AI & all things tech. Based in Christchurch, New Zealand. Founder of a Web3 startup and passionate about supporting local