Utilities can build a platform to address real loss by enhancing water distribution management and monitoring systems to protect infrastructure against leaks and bursts. Key solutions include:
DMA / Zone Balance
A mass-balance platform, and using District Metered Areas (DMAs) gives utilities a zonal view of their network operations. If something anomalous occurs, service technicians will know which zone to focus on to address the issue quickly and efficiently. This system also allows utilities to understand which zones (DMAs) might be prone to water leakage, further increasing accuracy and efficiency by allowing for better prioritization of field teams, contractors or acoustic leak detection activities.
Acoustic Leak Detection
Leveraging sensors with sound waves, acoustic solutions offer the capability to monitor distribution pipes and localize the identification of leaks with precision. Permanently or semi-permanently deployed sensors are activated overnight, listening to the distribution system when ambient noise is at its lowest, and then report pipeline conditions back to the utility through its communication network. Utilities can analyze the data to determine if and where a leak condition exists, activating service crews to quickly investigate and make repairs if necessary before they become costly problems.
These real-time systems provide utilities the benefit of identifying leaks in near real-time. The platforms leverage current magnitude and load metrics to time-stamp water flow and pressure. Coupled with unique load monitoring and reporting capabilities, these systems give utilities' access to critical operational and planning information along with traditional fault indication for enhanced leak management.
Advanced Leak Detection
Sophisticated solutions are available for utilities to take advantage of advanced leak detection. Platforms utilizing innovative technology, such as acoustic correlators and internal leak detection devices, allow service technicians to go into systems and monitor pipes for cracks or other issues that cause leaks despite their material and diameter. While the previous solutions will allow a utility to address a significant amount of NRW, advanced leak detection provides the capability to gather much more data and fine-tune leak detection to specific locations.
No One-Size-Fits-All for Leakage Reduction
Utilities should evaluate real water loss solutions based on what makes sense for their unique distribution infrastructure (ie. does the utility have a high proportion of non-metallic PVC, MDPE, HDPE pipelines?). A decision on how to address Real Losses is dependent on items such as the utility’s size and customer base, level of leakage and of course their budget.
A larger city of more than 1,000,000 people will have different needs than those in a smaller rural community. To hone in on the right strategy, each utility should examine the impact of NRW through the lens of its specific needs and budget. This is where experienced international water Loss consultants can assist with strategy development.
Many utilities have high levels of water leakage. Yet solutions are available to greatly improve unmetered water, inaccurate billing, and leak detection. Whether a utility decides to implement one specific strategy or take a step-by-step approach to minimize NRW, the potential benefits are significant. The right system can provide tangible benefits for optimizing water system health and accuracy that will pay off for years to come.