Our Water Supply Networks – Under Fire

By Aaron Evans, Vice President, InSource Solutions

Many local governments and municipalities are facing major challenges in their water supply networks. This is due to water shortages, economic constraints and ageing water supply networks. You don’t have to look far to find indicators of the condition of our water supply network. The number of current and anticipated pipe bursts and leaks offer enough proof. In fact, various regional authorities across North America have given estimates of water losses due to slow leakage from 10% to 45% of total production.

Some states are leading the way by requiring best practices for estimating, locating, and reducing leaks. Click on the map below to find out what policies are being adopted to report water losses accurately and set targets for water loss reduction by state.

Source: Natural Resources Defense Council 2017

So, what can be done? There are steps that can be taken to enhance a water utility’s leak detection capabilities. Implementing any of the following solutions will require some capital expenditure. However, this is offset by the cost of water losses due to leakage and damage to water network infrastructure. Here are 3 approaches:

  1. Use existing infrastructure and SCADA systems to monitor water demand. This will help detect sudden changes in demand but minor losses will go undetected.
  2. Retrofit the infrastructure to incorporate new sensing techniques such as fiber optics to detect changes in demand earlier, giving more time to respond. However, this is expensive and may be cost prohibitive for many municipalities due to budget constraints.
  3. Leverage new software techniques that offer predictive capabilities in conjunction with your existing SCADA system. It is now possible to model and then forecast the behavior of the water distribution network and anticipate the impact of planned and unplanned events before they happen. By using real time data from the SCADA system, newer systems take into consideration the ever-changing condition of the network and give municipalities time to proactively avoid pipe breaks and leaks. This is often more cost effective and does not require costly retrofits to the current infrastructure.

InSource will host a Webinar on April 20th highlighting a new Water Distribution Management offering from Schneider Electric Software. The offering is called Aquis. It uses the predictive approach referenced above. If you want to learn more about Aquis, please register for our Webinar using the following link. Register here