Non-revenue water – or treated water that is unbilled or “lost” due to leaking infrastructure, inaccurate meters or theft – is a major issue facing water utilities, impacting their revenue streams and operational expenses, as well as their community’s available water supply. An estimated 126 billion liters of water is lost each year due to non-revenue water, equivalent to a monetary value of around $40 billion annually.[i] Xylem’s water utility customers are using practical, innovative solutions to tackle this critical water challenge. Here are 3 ways they’re making a difference:
1. Walla Walla, WA, uses smart utility network to advance city’s water loss goals
The city of Walla Walla in the northwestern U.S. was losing more than 30 percent of its water annually due to failing pipes and aging meters. That’s when they began their journey toward long-term improvement by transitioning to a smart utility network from Sensus, a Xylem brand.
The initial smart network deployment combined iPERL® residential water meters and OMNI™ commercial meters with the two-way FlexNet® communication network. The system allowed the city to transition from monthly to hourly usage data with remote meter monitoring capabilities that improved leak detection.
Remote meter monitoring provides hourly usage data to help quickly detect issues.
“The system has helped us quickly detect everything from large water main breaks right down to running toilets or leaky faucets and work proactively with customers to address them,” said City of Walla Walla Water Distribution Supervisor Adrian Sutor. “The number of leak forgiveness applications we receive from customers has dropped by 75 percent as a result.”
As water loss improved and dipped below 30 percent, the utility team brainstormed the next phase of their smart water journey. City employees identified pressure monitoring as another effective avenue to reduce water loss and streamline customer service.
Walla Walla’s next move was to roll out Sensus ally® water meters coupled with the Sensus® Smart Gateway Sensor Interface for advanced pressure monitoring and management. This combination allows remote oversight of pressure and temperature.
Comparing near real-time data with the utility’s hydraulic model allows the utility team to deliver a high level of customer service around pressure monitoring. It also provides more detailed views into background leakage that’s not visible and underground.
“Whether it’s a leaky pipe or a failing pressure reducing valve, the technology lets us know if something is off with our system,” said Sutor. “These data insights allow us to take action before any issues become costly problems.” Read more about Xylem’s work with Walla Walla. Learn more about Sensus solutions.
2. Paris water utility uses SmartBall® to detect pipeline leaks
Eau de Paris provides three million people with high-quality water and strives to be a leader in sustainable water management. In 2021, the utility needed to inspect the Voulzie pipeline, a 39-kilometer (24-mile) pipeline built in 1924. This project presented two challenges. First, the pipeline couldn’t be inspected directly by staff since it is too narrow, and access to the pipeline is too limited to allow for the use of a camera. Second, the inspection could not disrupt service, since the pipeline is one of the main arteries that supplies Paris with drinking water every day.
Eau de Paris, which has worked with Xylem for more than 30 years, decided to use Xylem’s SmartBall platform to work around space constraints. The SmartBall platform is a free-swimming inspection tool that can detect pinhole-sized leaks using a highly sensitive acoustic sensor. It can also be used to map pipelines, which is especially useful for older systems. During inspection, the SmartBall is inserted into a pipeline, tracked as it moves inside the pipeline, then extracted.
Based on the analysis of the inspection report provided by Xylem, Eau de Paris was able to quickly begin fixing the leaks and prioritizing pipeline repairs. Sebastien Popot, Head of the Diagnostics Project Unit, Eau de Paris, said: “Digital innovations like the SmartBall platform are valuable allies in optimizing our network asset management and improving our water management. This benefits our users and the environment.” Read more. Learn about SmartBall.
3. Malaysia’s largest water utility uses digital technology to reduce pipe leaks and bursts
Malaysia’s largest water utility, Pengurusan Air Selangor Sendirian Berhad (Air Selangor), has demonstrated the value of leveraging data to drive cross-functional collaboration and deliver transformative outcomes.
Air Selangor serves a population of roughly nine million people, with 5,000 employees across ten regional offices. The utility has used data and digital tools to meet a variety of objectives, such as improving customer engagement and satisfaction via smart metering and reducing non-revenue water with intelligent leak detection and burst-pipe monitoring. Air Selangor implemented what it calls a “360-degree digital transformation strategy,” with integration across departments, systems, and datasets at its core.
An executive dashboard with near-real-time performance information pulls data from as many as 40 systems into a central pipeline or “data lake.” As Ir. Abas Abdullah, Air Selangor’s Acting Chief Executive Officer, explained, “We have a lot of data, a lot of information, but we need it to be meaningful – we have to be able to connect all the dots.” The company has cultivated what Abdullah calls a “digital working culture,” in part by establishing new data-focused teams that cut across existing functional groups, such as a Digital & Analytics Center and an Intelligent Command Center.
Read more about Air Selangor’s proactive approach to reducing pipe leaks and bursts.
Hear from Ir. Abas Abdullah, Acting Chief Executive Officer Air Selangor about the essential role of smart technologies in tackling complex challenges and transforming operations.
Download Xylem & Bluefield Research’s new white paper – Ripple Effect: A Movement Towards Digital Transformation.