SOLVE IT: Measuring leakage better and Asset intelligence
Water leakage is a large and ongoing problem for water companies with up to 21% of clean water lost through leakage - an unacceptable wastage.
Around 14.7 billion litres are produced per day with 3.1 billion litres lost (equal to 1,235 Olympic size pools worth lost each day), ref: (www.discoverwater.co.uk).
At Severn Trent Water, the focus of interest is around enhancing our understanding of 'True leakage', exploring ill defined aspects of measurement and ways to better model leakage.
Another part of this programme is focusing on asset intelligence.
A study in 2011 by UKWIR (UK Water Industry Research) showed that 13% leakage could be achieved by:
- Quadrupling the current leak detection resources
- A massive increase in pressure management
- External metering of all properties
- Continuing pipe renewals at current rates
However, this is longer term and has an impact on the economic cost model for producing clean water.
What we learned so far:
What will happen after the challenge:
The output of the sprint will lead to a tangible financial difference and support for water companies in reducing their leakage. Business cases will be formed outside the hack based on opportunities generated during the hack. There may be funding for research from UK Water Industry Research group.
A longstanding problem:
Water companies have been developing solutions to this problem for many years although progress has plateaued.
Using traditional methods, leakage was massively reduced in the initial drive, but it has proven to be difficult to reduce below current levels without major additional costs to the customer.
The current solutions typically involve using the existing maintenance budget to fix problems as scheduled, prioritised by various factors including severity, location, volume, impact, etc.
Practical constraints and simple economics:
Currently not all customers are metered. Water companies therefore monitor leakage by measuring the inflow and outflow of district meterage areas (DMAs). This is tracked over time with increased usage in normal patterns across an overnight baseline being identified as leakage.
There is currently an economic threshold level reached, after which the customer is not happy at the additional costs required to reduce leakage further.
Data, processes and tools available:
Data is complex and hard to fathom using current norms. There are a lot of variables.
In addition, decision processes/ support tools tend to be topical (focussed on aspects of the problem), and not integrated.
In practical terms there are problems in identifying leakage prioritisation and supporting management decisions.
The Leakage Design Sprint will interact with a dedicated Hackathon through which Data analytics and insight is being explored.
Given this the Hackathon will take place later on in the week, starting on Wednesday and finishing on Thursday.