Leakage Reduction Programs

Establishing leakage reduction programs in water distribution networks isn’t straight forward. It requires a range of water loss management activities such as DMA establishment (or Virtual DMA), pressure management, step-testing, and a comprehensive approach to active leak detection to drive down water loss. The ability to monitor and measure water movement within the water network is a critical component so reduction initiatives can be undertaken and measured for success.

What is Leakage Reduction?

Ever since water has been distributed through networks of underground pipes, some of it has leaked before it reached its intended point of use. Many water utilities throughout Australia and New Zealand have instigated water loss management projects with the aim of achieving a significantly lower level of leakage through the establishment of better processes and ongoing field works.

It is essential that water utilities have a plan for their water loss management which is consistent with other aspects of their corporate or strategic plans. Leakage is an element in water supply and should be viewed as an alternative source of water in conjunction with the type of resource. To an extent, improved water loss management can produce short-term as well as long-term yields.

Leakage reduction plans will be specific to each water utility, and sometimes to supply zones within a specific water utility. What is economic for one area may not be appropriate for another. Leakage management strategies will also change with time as unit costs of water and active leak detection change, and new techniques become available at a lower cost.

In formulating a water loss management plan for reducing leakage, water utilities need to consider the following six key issues.

  1. How much do we wish to spend?
  2. What are the implications of a relatively high level of leakage?
  3. How can we estimate the savings from leakage management measures?
  4. How do the regulators (such as IPART in New South Wales) view our leakage reduction targets?
  5. What are the next steps in formulating a leakage management plan?
  6. Are there any political considerations we need to consider?

How to implement a Leakage Reduction Program?

Leakage reduction projects of all sizes, first and foremost, require full commitment from a water utility and a strategy that has engagement and ownership from senior leadership right through to repair crews. Utilities that have the greatest success with their leakage management programs have an ingrained organisational culture that is leakage-centric, an unwavering commitment to continuous improvement and alignment between different parts of the organisation.

At Aqua Analytics, we engage with utilities early on to understand their objectives, review existing processes and conduct a gap analysis. This approach allows the development of a customised leakage reduction strategy that ensures success in the local conditions. Specific tactics may include establishing District Metered Areas (DMAs), installing data loggers, implementing pressure management solutions, undertaking step-testing, active leakage control or smarter workforce management solutions to improve the speed and quality of repairs.

What are the benefits of a Leakage Reduction Program?

An ongoing leakage reduction program, ensures that a water utility is maintaining their water supply network at the best possible level and demonstrating an ongoing commitment to their customers through environmental sustainability, prevention of disruptive bursts and commitment to maintenance of existing infrastructure. Some other key benefits of leakage reduction projects are:

  • More reliable water supply – fixing existing or damaged pipes that are prone to more catastrophic bursts.
  • Improved water quality – reducing health risks and contamination by finding and fixing all leaks.
  • Reducing levels of leakage – reducing the amount of treated potable drinking water lost underground and the associated cost saving.

Leakage reduction programs are strongest when alignment exists between Asset Management, Operations and Digital groups within the water utility. We focus on ensuring that all key stakeholders are aligned with the leakage strategy and implementation.

How can Aqua Analytics help with our leakage reduction efforts?

Aqua Analytics have unsurpassed experience in delivering high-performance non-revenue water reduction projects throughout Australia and New Zealand. At all times, our approach is to act as a true partner and an extension of your existing team and alliance partners. This is demonstrated by openly discussing performance-based contracts that link our fees to the results we achieve.

In addition, our team are active members of the IWA Water Loss Specialist allowing global collaboration with industry peers on technologies and methods for water loss management and reduction.

To find out more about how we can assist with water loss management and leakage reduction throughout Australia and Zealand, contact us today.