Water Losses in India Cut in Half by Smart Meters: Itron

Itron Inc., the largest U.S. maker of metering devices that save energy and cut waste, said smart meters installed in Mumbai reduced water losses by half.

Smart meter use in India’s most populous city eliminated 50 percent of the 700 million liters (150 million gallons) a day of water that’s wasted or leaked by broken pipes, Marcel Regnier, Itron’s chief operating officer for water, said today from Paris. Itron is based in Liberty Lake, Washington.

Mumbai installed the meters, which can be read remotely, to help improve supplies from a system that provides tap water to half of the city’s 13 million residents for a few hours a day and no water at all for everyone else, Regnier said in the interview. About 50 percent of Mumbai’s potable water is lost compared with an average of 34 percent worldwide and about 10 percent for the most efficient water systems, he said.

“The target was, with the same level of resource and the same capital investment, to provide water to a larger portion of the population,” Regnier said. Initial results show a “significant” improvement in supply and new customers though it’s too early to quantify, he said.

Metering helped the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai find leaks and discouraged waste, “putting a value on a shared resource,” Regnier said. In practice, Mumbai residents fill cisterns daily to assure a 24-hour water supply, he said.

‘Horrific’ Issues

Itron now is installing, or has contracts to install, meters in the suburb of Navi Mumbai, New Delhi and Bangalore, he said. It has seen similar water savings in Africa, he said.

“If you’re able to meter the product and charge a fair price for it, a very low price but a fair price, it gives the utility enough return on their investment that they can develop more lines and capacity,” Itron Chief Executive Officer Philip Mezey said in an interview yesterday in New York.

“India has horrific water issues” that go well beyond meters and domestic waste, Deane Dray, a New York-based water-industry analyst for Citigroup Inc., said today in a phone interview. “It’s nice to hear they are interested in water meters because it shows they are progressing.”