Posted on Friday, March 22, 2019 by Lena Warming

Fighting Non-Revenue Water With Smart Metering

Water covers 70% of our planet, and you might think that there will always be abundant quantities, however, clean water — what we drink, bathe in, water our farm and fields with—is unbelievably limited. Only 3% of the world’s water is clean water, and two-thirds of that is tucked away in frozen glaciers or is otherwise unavailable for our use.

As a consequence, approximately 1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to water, and a total of 2.7 billion find water scarce for at least one month of the year. Today it is World Water Day and we discuss how tackling the water crisis by addressing the reasons why and how Non-Revenue Water and water loss can be lowered through smart metering and data. 

At Kamstrup, we want to be a part of implementing The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. Sustainable Development Goal number 6 “Clean Water and Sanitation” is set out to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030. With the Sustainable Development Goals, the UN has created a foundation for working towards a more sustainable future and water utilities today play a major role in implementing and overcoming the obstacles that get in the way of reaching the goals. We believe that Smart metering can help utilities all over the world reduce water loss and Non-Revenue water by providing frequent and reliable insights to an otherwise black box that is also known as a distribution network.

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

Water loss level per country

Ensuring a safe and steady water supply
In India, Shirpur Warwade, located in the north of Maharashtra became the first town in India to adopt 100% smart metering for residential and commercial water consumption. In early 2018, they started billing their customers as per the consumption based on readings from Kamstrup’s AMR solution and they have noticed significant savings in the overall water consumption, thereby building a sustainable water supply across the town.
 
The town is annually struck by drought which is why it is crucial for them to maintain a safe water supply. Using smart metering has not only contributed to creating a safe water supply all year round but has also made the citizens more aware of their consumption. 
 

"After the meters has been installed, we know how much water we are consuming on a daily basis and we are using it more carefully now"

..Harish Mahajan, Citizen in Shirpur Warwade
Prior to the installation of the new meters the town supplied 120.00.000 litres of water annually but only a few months after the new meters had been implemented the supply went down to 80.00.000 litres – a decrease of 33.3%.

Transparency comes from knowledge
We believe that one step in the process towards a sustainable and stable water supply for all is increased transparency in the distribution network. Too much of our clean and safe drinking water disappears on its way to the consumers and too much is consumed without being metered which makes it difficult to know when and where to take action.
 
Smart metering and frequent data help create transparency the distribution network and create a continuous overview of how much water is being consumed and how much is lost through leaks and bursts. This enables utilities to reduce Non-Revenue Water, bring down waste, limit the risk for ingress of contaminants and preserve our resources.
 
We continuously want to share our knowledge and insights in order to achieve our common goals. In partnership with Danish Technical University and University of Copenhagen 17 African students, engineers and governmental employees from Kenya and South Africa will participate in a full-day workshop at Kamstrup where we share knowledge and discuss how smart metering can solve some of the issues and challenges that utilities face in Africa.

A group of African students, engineers and governmental employees at Kamstrup learning about smart metering

A group of African students, engineers and governmental employees at Kamstrup learning about smart metering

Fighting Non-Revenue Water with data
Water loss is the amount of processed and distributed water that is lost in the distribution network and is therefore not consumed and billed. It is water that is lost or not billed as a result of bursts due to pressure surges, inaccurate meter readings, aging infrastructure, illegal connections to the network, etc. The major consequence of Non-Revenue water is the utility's inability to secure revenue and money for repairs, expansion of the distribution network and optimisation of treatment processes.

Non-Revenue Water and water loss is a global problem because it makes it difficult to preserve our water resources - particularly in areas with water scarcity. But it is also a challenge faced by most local water utilities every day due to circumstances like increased urbanisation, higher demand, and aging distribution networks. The area is complex because the many kinds of Non-Revenue Water must be dealt with in different ways. However, common to all of them is that they require the right knowledge at the right time – and that is where data from smart metering can play a major part.

Dealing with leakages the intelligent way
Smart metering enables you to distinguish between real losses – leakages – and apparent losses – metering inaccuracies and unmetered consumption – in your supply area.

By analysing the data that your smart meters collect, you can pinpoint leakages in the distribution network a lot faster and more accurately. A smart meter will automatically send out an alarm in case of a leak or a burst inside the house which enables you to take action much faster and more effectively than before. 

Pressure management makes it possible for the utility to reduce the total number of leaks and bursts because an optimal operating pressure reduces the “stress” on the pipes. There is a direct link between the operating pressure and the number of leaks. With increased knowledge of the pressure in the distribution mains, it is possible to optimise the pressure, lower the energy consumption and the amount of leakage. The utility also gains detailed knowledge of pressure surges that can lead to bursts.

Opportunities come through innovation
It is difficult for the utility to manage and work proactively with its water resources if it does not know how much water is lost, and how the water is lost.

With the right tools, utilities can transform their metering data into actionable insights that support the development towards a more sustainable water future. It is no longer just about smart meters and consumption data, but also about adding other smart devices to your distribution network such as sensors that can provide detailed data on other parameters, for example, water quality.

In the years to come, the sustainability focus in the water sector will undoubtedly see many more innovative approaches and new opportunities, but on the path to a sustainable water future, smart water metering is one of the weapons utilities can use to generate concrete results today.

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