Achieving sustainable water management should be the aspiration of every utility company worldwide. Water is a scarce and valuable resource under increasing stress, and the benefit of sustainable water management is, besides the environmental aspect, simply also good business. Sustainable water business saves utilities and their consumers real money.
Focus on Non-Revenue Water all over the world
The difference between the amount of water a utility pumps into the distribution system and the amount of water billed, termed NRW (Non-Revenue Water), is high in many utilities around the globe. Huge volumes of clean drinking water are being lost through leaks, inaccurate water meters at end users and illegal connections (theft). In many parts of the world this means having much larger water extraction than needed, and scarce water resources are over-exploited. This is unsustainable and results in unnecessary high water prices. In the long run this pose a real threat to development, urbanization and agriculture for many people in large parts of the world. Sustainable water supply and cost efficient water supply come hand in hand.
NRW is always a key performance indicator for any water utility. Reducing NRW-levels is a pivotal management challenge, and the aspiration should be to reduce NRW down to the optimal economical level of leakage (ELL). This will be the most beneficial for both economy, finances and resources.
Main Activities in Leakage Management
Effective Leakage Management builds on four known, but very important, main pillars: Pressure management, active leakage control, speed and quality of repairs – and pipeline management and rehabilitation.
The four pillars of leakage management as defined by IWA (International Water Association)
Operating the distribution network at the lowest required pressure reduces leakage from existing leaks, reduces energy consumption, reduces burst frequency and prolongs the lifetime of the pipes. In short – it saves a lot of money.
Our Leakage Management system provides continuously minimized pressure in the water network while all the customers still have adequate pressure. By combining intelligent pumps and valves the pressure in defined District Meter Areas (DMAs) are maintained at the optimum pressure within these areas. Online operational information from SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) combined with pressure optimization calculations by advanced modelling tools allow for continuous pressure management and optimization. The effects are significant.
Active Leakage Control
Using permanently deployed noise loggers with automated data collection through radio, wireless or GPRS communication means that pipe bursts can be registered, reported and localized within 24 hours which reduces the lifetime of leaks significantly. This is combined with water balance reporting and a proper set of KPI’s that focuses on leakage, i.e. Minimum Night Flow and estimated leakage; all of it is monitored by an information system (HOMIS) enabling the leakage teams to react fast and effectively and target the leakage works to the right areas and pipeline segments.
Speed and Quality of Repairs
Skilled and well trained staff working in a professional environment of dedicated teams with access to the right tools and equipment is the corner stone of reducing awareness Location Repair (ALR) times of leaks. Optimizing the speed of repair will reduce the volume of water lost through running leaks, but often the focus on increasing the quality of repair to prevent the same leaks to reappear is just as important.
Pipeline Management and Rehabilitation
Continuous management of the pipeline network conducting preventive maintenance and strategic rehabilitation is the only way to drive leakage down to an absolute minimum, and to maintain this minimum.
Strategic rehabilitation planning and efficient asset management can be implemented by using all relevant data including the Performance Management System, a burst database, the repair statistics and data from the continuous monitoring and control of the whole network. This results in optimum rehabilitation plans, significantly reduced overall costs and a pipe network in constantly good condition.
One integrated system for the full benefit
The trick is to make all components of the utility and the distribution network – pipes, valves, pumps, meters, sensors, simulation models, management information systems – function as an integrated system.
Using HOMIS as a centralized Management Information System to improve performance
Even though many of these components are already in use at water utilities, they are often installed as part of separate projects with only little or inefficient interface in between the different components. As a consequence, the full potential of the entire system is never reached.
When establishing seamless and generic interfaces between all components the value of each individual system when combined with the other systems can be optimized.
Then you can manage assets, production, operation, leakage, energy, consumption, pressure, revenue and finance – and achieve one single, integrated and sustainable system and a profitable and responsible company.