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A smart approach to water loss

The wide integration of IoT and data analytics into the GCC water networks can help to minimise leaks

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Water leakages, Water utility, SCADA, Internet of Things

Water loss remains one the serious challenges that regional utilities are still working hard to address. For most water utilities, it is important to close the considerable gap between the volumes of water they supply and those that are billed to the customers. This difference is known as Non-Revenue Water (NRW), or urban water loss, and it amounts to between 25 and 50% of the total water distributed globally.

Leakage is usually the largest component of distribution loss. It occurs in different components of the distribution system: transmission pipes, distribution pipes, service connection pipes, joints, valves, and fire hydrants.

GCC countries have given the losses in the municipal distribution network, both real and apparent, their adequate attention and have made programmes to minimise these to the acceptable international norms with the help of new water leak detection and prevention technologies.

As demand in the region evolves, there is a growing push towards SCADA control as clients seek more control of their network conditions such as flows, pressures, levels, and pumps. There is a lot more need for the use of electronics in the water networks.

While GCC countries embrace data analytics on a wider scale as part of their push towards smart cities, water technology providers have been quick in customising their products to aid this transition. A number of valves are being upgraded with programmable logic controllers, electronic control panels, 4-20 mA operated pilot systems, among others.

Companies such as Oracle Utilities have introduced systems equipped with sensors that notify a utility company of a possible leak in their system. Currently, most utilities still have to send someone out to verify the leak, but the system does cut down on response times.

“With electric utilities, when we talk about switching, you flip the switch closed and the current flows. If you flip the switch open, it stops flowing. It’s just the opposite on a water valve. Through SCADA and sensor data, we can get more insight on what’s happening downstream. It helps with leak detection and identifying where the leak is at,” says Bradley Williams, vice president of industry strategy at Oracle Utilities.

Metito and Optiqua Technologies recently collaborated to bring Optiqua’s intelligent water quality monitoring solutions, Eventlab and Minilab, to the GCC and other key markets in Asia and Africa, as the market for these solutions grows.

EventLab is a real time continuous monitoring solution that strongly outperforms any traditional sensor technology for the purpose of overall water quality monitoring and contamination detection. MiniLab is a compact sensing platform that provides user- friendly and cost-effective analysis of contaminants in various matrices for both lab and field applications.

Bentley systems has released its modelling products that provide for an integrated management of the entire urban water lifecycle, thereby advancing the design and construction of water infrastructures.

As the GCC broadens its integration of Internet of Things (IoT) and data analytics into its water networks, levels of water loss could be significantly reduced.

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