Non-revenue water (NRW) is potable water that is captured, treated, and pumped around a water pipeline network but is lost somewhere before reaching a customer water meter. This water is not used, or paid for, by a customer and hugely impacts the local resources available and the local economies. Non-revenue water is a universal issue, and cities around the world have struggled for decades to reduce their high levels of NRW. Thus, all the possible efforts must be made to reduce the level of non-revenue water, which will improve our systems’ operational efficiency and the long-term financial viability of the water systems owned and operated in our cities and towns. Here are a few steps that can help in the reduction of water loss in the distribution system:
1) Sectorisation of the water network
Making efforts towards water loss reduction within the overall water distribution network requires comprehensive planning at both a strategic and tactical level. To reduce water loss, we must undertake various activities to identify where the leakage is occurring within the system proactively. Therefore, dividing the water supply network into various sections, also termed as district metered areas (DMA), is an efficient manner to get an overview of the level of water loss in these areas by measuring minimum night flows (MNF). These separate sections can individually calculate the water loss and apply better planning and prioritise field activities to yield more rapid results.
2) Monitoring Network Activities
The emergence of smart IoT devices for water network management has made it easier to obtain real-time monitoring from water pipelines. These loggers and IoT devices then help detect acoustic leak sound and enable the operators to pinpoint the exact location where water loss could be present. Combining smart water network devices with the concept of DMAs (or Virtual DMAs) allows us to obtain instantaneous insight into water network performance down to a small section of water mains.
3) Aiming towards the recovery of water leakage
One of the most common causes of water leakage from water pipes is underground breaks, bursts or leaks. It is not uncommon for water leaks to remain undetected for many years due to porous soil or leakage entering wastewater or stormwater systems. Therefore, measurement of water movement into specific sections of the network must occur so operators can allocate resources to areas with high levels of NRW.
4) Water Network Assessment and Repair
When sectorisation of a water network occurs (either through traditional DMAs or Virtual DMAs) water network operators become more efficient in how they target, act and improve the water loss problem. If such an assessment is done quickly and efficiently, cities can save significant volumes of water. This will ultimately cause a lower amount of disturbance for all the water network customers who depend upon the running supply of water
5) Water Network Pressure Management
Pressure management is often viewed as the most cost-effective, beneficial and important water leakage management activity. The greater the pressure, the greater amount of water lost through leaks or bursts. The ongoing pressure fluctuation in a water supply network can often cause relatively small leaks to become larger and lead to eventual failure (or burst). A strong pressure management approach can alleviate this problem, and it is a key reason why implementing smart water networks in Australia have significant benefits for both water loss reduction and pipeline asset management.
All the above points help you understand some important actions required for water loss reduction in the distribution network. Given the increasing retail price of water, coupled with ongoing water restrictions in many cities, water loss management in Australia has become a critical part of water utilities operational plans.
We all have a part to play in ensuring we have clean, safe, drinking water for future generations. Together, we need to avoid any water shortages in our cities and towns and ensure that optimizing resources, including the delivery of water loss management strategies.