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Can smarter leak detection technologies help reduce non-revenue water (NRW)?

Water lost through leaking pipes is a huge contributor to non-revenue water (NRW), as most urban cities across the globe have water pipelines that are more than 60 years old. The global NRW volume is estimated to be 126 billion liters per year, which translates to losses of nearly USD $40 billion a year. Rising water stress, high production costs, demand for optimal allocation of water resources, and improved environmental awareness are creating an urgent need for smart leak detection and management solutions and value-added services.

Recent Report on Non-Revenue Water

Frost & Sullivan's recent analysis, Growth Opportunities in Global Smart Water Leakage Management Solutions Market, examines the regions of North America, Latin America, Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Asia-Pacific. The study provides the revenue forecasts for every region as well as insights into disruptive technologies, growth opportunities based on new business models, the competitive landscape, smart value-added services that could enhance growth, and top trends for the forecast period.

Smarter technologies are being used to reduce leakage from buried water pipes

"Following the introduction of Artificial Intelligence-enabled smart leak detection technologies, evolving business models such as Leak Management-as-a-Service have been disrupting the market," said Paul Hudson, senior research analyst for Energy & Environment at Frost & Sullivan.

This model is being applied in water utilities to lower the spending on capital expenditure, equipment maintenance, and expert teams.

"The seamless integration of leak data into any asset management or data analytics platform used by the utility can aid quick decision making, and has emerged a key differentiator," noted Hudson. "Pipe condition assessment is another key value-added service that can be monetised. Technologies like focused electrode leak locator, which can detect leaks in non-conductive sewer pipelines, have gained traction due to their accuracy and rapid results."

Can artificial intelligence and machine learning play a role in reducing leakage in busy urban environments?

Opportunities for Technology Advancement

Leading vendors across the globe are acquiring technologies to enhance their portfolio and service coverage to improve the granularity of their solutions. There will be additional revenue generation opportunities in:

  • Assessing leaks of a long-distance transmission network in a short period of time.

  • Partnering with local water utility and operations & maintenance (O&M) service providers.

  • Developing a multi-product portfolio to present utilities with solutions that can pinpoint leaks, conduct leak audits, or perform continual leak monitoring.

  • Ensuring compatibility in terms of the size and type of pipelines (including plastic pipelines) in both water or wastewater pipelines.

  • Up-selling leakage data to water data analytics solutions providers through collaborations or partnerships.


The emergence of technologies to address water leakage has long being mooted in the water sector. After decades of R&D and trials, many water utilities are embarking on program to implement smarter technologies to reduce their non-revenue water. Significant opportunity exists to implement new technologies to predict, prevent and identify leaks in water distribution networks.

Understanding how to implement such a strategy can be confusing. Our team of international experts can assist with all steps of your NRW program development. Contact them today for a non-obligation discussion.

© 2019 by International NRW Consulting. 

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