ABB technology helps equip New Zealand with a more resilient water and wastewater infrastructure

Case study | March 15, 2023

All around the world, issues such as surging energy costs, scarce resources, population growth, and climate change are making securing water in a sustainable way increasingly difficult. Here’s how New Zealand is future-proofing its water system.  

With water becoming an ever more precious resource, it’s vital that the water industry monitors, manages, and improves resource efficiency, while at the same time improving environmental protection. 

In New Zealand, challenges with the management of the country’s water supply and infrastructure have until recently been ‘out of sight and out of mind’ – largely hidden in the country’s vast underground network of pipes – making problems tricky to trace, monitor, and fix. 

A growing awareness of the ageing and failing nature of New Zealand’s drinking water, stormwater, and wastewater infrastructure, and of the multi-billion-dollar national water infrastructure deficit, has brought these issues into the light and under scrutiny.  

With its slogan, ‘If the water is healthy, the land is healthy, the people are healthy,’ Water New Zealand, the industry body for New Zealand’s three water sectors (drinking water, stormwater, and wastewater) is highlighting the threat that issues with the water infrastructure pose to public health, wellbeing, and the fair distribution of resources. 

The New Zealand government, meanwhile, has been running campaigns across the water sector on the need to improve the safety and quality of water services in affordable and equitable ways, and at the same time has introduced regulations to ensure that the quality and certainty of water supply can be tracked and measured in ways similar to the electricity sector. 


The challenge for Wellington Water

Wellington Water manages the water infrastructure for six New Zealand councils; an infrastructure that includes 105 water pump stations, 248 wastewater pump stations, approximately 148 reservoirs and 27 storm water pump stations at various sites. The council owned water services company is responsible for sourcing, treating, distributing, and discharging water and wastewater to a resident population of about 436,000, making the challenge it faces relating to using resources more efficiently and sustainably immense. 

Thankfully, ABB’s pioneering water measurement solutions, which integrate automation, instrumentation, electrical/digital packages, and specialist consultancy services are helping Wellington Water to control water pressure and monitor water flow in a way that’s sustainable, cost-effective and safe. The market-leading highly reliable technologies and services provided by ABB are not only helping the company to process water more efficiently, but they’re also reducing energy consumption by up to 10%, and at the same time improving New Zealand’s water quality. 

Optimizing productivity by accurately measuring in-pipe water flow

You can’t manage what you can’t measure, which is why ABB’s Measurement & Analytics solutions are so important to Wellington Water and its sprawling network of water pipes. ABB’s technologies give Wellington Water the ability to measure, store data and track water flow passing through pipes in real-time. And as Paul Winstanley, Wellington Water’s Utilities Planning Engineer, explains, the fact that ABB has evolved its technologies to improve efficiency and meet new regulatory demands doesn’t mean that the older ABB units in place across much of the company’s vast water pipe network are redundant and in need of replacement.  

“We mainly use ABB’s WaterMasters. For many years we used ABB’s MagMaster units, which were outstanding, and we have now adapted to the new WaterMasters by back-engineering these to fit the old MagMasters. This is very beneficial and cost-effective for us.”  


ABB’s electromagnetic WaterMaster units provide Wellington Water with the ability to measure, store data and track water flow passing through their pipes in real-time. The sensors have a user-friendly interface that enables fast and simple data entry for all parameters, and an easy set-up that simplifies the commissioning phase. The units are also rugged and robust, and designed to ensure a long, maintenance-free life under the arduous conditions of the water and wastewater industries.  

Each ABB WaterMaster includes a simulated reference that isn’t affected by conditions at the measuring location, enabling the meter’s performance to be validated and optimised. 

An infrared service port also makes it easy for recorded data to be exported for further analysis and evaluation so that critical factors can be identified earlier, and corrective actions are taken more quickly. Additionally, ABB's variable speed drive provides resilience in having the ability to control pressure and flow when required and improve operational monitoring. In this way, the process can be optimised for both greater productivity and less downtime. 

By leveraging advanced measuring techniques such as these, Wellington Water can achieve its operational and financial targets.  

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