Drinking Water SolutionsHere you can read about different solutions within drinking water
Danish water – and wastewater treatment is among the best in the world
Large parts of the world are facing severe challenges with drinking water and wastewater treatment. This has caused interest in Danish water technology and the Danish water model to grow, which has led to increasing international cooperation in the water sector.
In particular, large Danish water companies such as our partner VCS Denmark in the city of Odense and Aarhus Vand are engaged in international partnerships and sell, in this connection, a large number of water technology products and solutions from Danish manufacturers to public authorities and utility companies all over the world. Many have apparently discovered that Danish water companies and producers have something extra and a bit special to offer such as a good number of Danish wastewater plants are already or on their way of becoming energy-neutral.
(Source: DANVA: Water in numbers 2017)
Water consumption on a global scale is estimated to increase by up to 30% by 2020 according to the United Nations. This will lead to an even greater supply gap for countries already facing water stress. In order to meet the future demand for water, a strong focus on efficient water management, operation and not least reducing Non-Revenue Water is needed.
Today, 25-50% of all distributed water globally is lost or never invoiced due to illegal connections, inaccurate billing systems, inaccurate metering, leakages, deteriorating infrastructure and wrong water pressure management etc. This is all in all called
Non-Revenue Water (NRW).
In order to bring down and maintain a low level of NRW, several aspects need to be addressed – from the initial planning phase to the day-to-day operations as well as the use of high-quality installations and good workmanship. (Source: State of Green)
A sucessful programme for reducing NRW
Several aspects – from the initial planning phase to the day-to-day operations, the use of high quality installations and good workmanship – need to be addressed to reach low NRW levels and ensure continuous success.
A series of activities needed
Achieving and keeping the NRW-level within the Economic Leakage Level (ELL) (based on cost-benefit calculations of results of activities) requires a strong focus on planning, operation, high-quality products and skilled workmanship.
The more information and data that is available on the water distribution and the better integrated the management system is, the easier it is to get an overview and subsequently prioritise investments. A strong management system can therefore be the key to success in terms of prioritising actions and securing fast return on investments.
It is very important that an NRW reduction programme is established and understood from the highest level of the organisation to the lowest.
High-quality products pay off in the long term
As improvements in the water distribution infrastructure need to last for a long period of time, it is highly recommended to use high-quality components and products. Aspects which should be considered when purchasing and installing new components include length and scope of warranty, Total Cost of Ownership, energy consumption as well as accuracy and long-term reliability.
High-quality equipment and workmanship
In addition to skilled workmanship, the use of high quality equipment for infrastructure installations is strongly recommended. Focus should be on long warranty, low Cost of Ownership, low energy consumption and reliable online measurement equipment.
It is apparent that the quality of installed components or equipment (pipes, valves, pumps and meters etc.) plays a key factor in reducing real water losses. An important argument for choosing high quality products is the Total Cost of Ownership. Since replacements and repairs are often far more expensive than the product itself, the expected operating costs and lifespan of installed products should be included in the selection criteria of the tendering process.
Avoiding physical losses by minimising leakages in pipes or valves
Water loss adds significantly to operating costs. Leakages can be caused by leaks in the pipes, valves or joints, e.g. caused by valves that are not drop-tight or have worn-out stem sealing.
Once equipment has been installed below the ground as a part of the distribution system, it is very difficult to control the valves, pipes or other installations. It is therefore important that all equipment and installations are made from quality materials to ensure they will function properly for many years.
Only quality products with a long warranty should be used and all equipment should be selected based on the principals of ‘Lifetime Cost’ or ‘Total Cost of Ownership’ and not simply on the initial purchasing price.
High-quality materials ensures long lifetime
PE pipelines with estimated durability of 80–100 years are used for nearly all water distribution networks and service pipes in Denmark and welding and other joints of the PE-pipes must be carried out by well-educated staff to ensure a correspondingly
long lifetime of the networks.
By choosing high-quality shut-off valves, leakages from the valve itself can be avoided. Gate valves with high-quality gasket of rubber ensure that the valves are 100% drop-tight. Valves, pipes and joints must all be made of corrosion free materials.
Skills and well-trained staff
NRW reduction is not just a technical issue. Carrying out a successful NRW programme and achieving strong results takes a committed management and trained staff that continuously work on keeping NRW levels low.
The management level must understand and prioritise the activities of the NRW programme and the benefits of purchasing equipment with high accuracy, reliability and low Total Cost of Ownership as purchasing the cheapest offer might not
be the best or most cost-efficient solution to reducing NRW in the long term.
Training of technical staff
The technical staff has to receive training in how to use new tools like GIS, hydraulic models, leakage monitoring systems, noise loggers and smart meters. The training programme should include staff at all levels and be tailored to the specific needs
of the different work functions, from the planners to the craftsmen who all need to understand the necessity of following the specific procedures and QA systems.
External partners also have to be taken into account and instructed in how to follow the water utility’s guidelines and QA system to make sure a high quality level of their work.
Barriers to successful NRW reduction
Much of the failure is due to an underestimation of the technical difficulties and the complexity of NRW management, along with a lack of understanding of the potential benefits of taking action. Reducing NRW is not a project, it is a continuous process.
Common barriers to NRW reduction
Reducing NRW should have highest priority for every water utility, however it seems like nothing is really happening in many water utilities despite high NRW levels. Some of the most common reasons for this situation and lack of action might be:
- Lack of political awareness: In many places the value of drinking water is taken for granted and as a result lacks both political focus and priority.
- Inaccurate data: Having access to reliable data is crucial as inaccurate meter readings etc. may lead to wrong decisions.
- Focus on purchasing price rather than Total Cost of Ownership:
Tenders and purchasing decisions focus solely on the acquisition price of e.g. new equipment rather than looking at the cost of ownership throughout the lifetime of the products. This will often result in poorer solutions and increase the need for replacement afterwards.
- NRW is not connected to overall sustainability goals: There is often little perceived connection between NRW management and the utility’s overall sustainability or climate change resiliency goals.
Reaping the benefits of reducing NRW
There are many benefits to be reaped from adopting and successfully implementing a Non-Revenue Water reduction programme.
Reducing urban water loss can postpone the need for additional water resources in cities with a growing population as up to 30% more people can potentially be served simply by making distribution systems more efficient.
Considerable energy savings
If 25-50% of the water produced is lost through leakages and never reaches the end consumers, it also means that the energy used to treat and distribute the water is wasted. It is possible to obtain considerable energy savings as a typical NRW reduction programme also ensures more stable water pressure throughout the system which in turn increases energy efficiency even further.
It is estimated that the apparent loss (commercial loss) caused by inaccurate metering and data handling errors etc. typically makes up 25-75% of the total NRW. A high NRW can therefore seriously affect the financial viability of water utilities as a result of lost revenues. The costs savings and increased revenues gained from reducing NRW through efficient management can therefore be transformed into larger working funds for the utility, securing its future efficiency and development for the benefit of the entire region.