Over recent years, water utilities have become increasingly aware of the need to enhance the performance of their water networks. This means managing infrastructure in such a way that unplanned maintenance costs are minimised; pressure, flow and water quality are sustained; energy requirements are optimised; and revenue losses from system leaks are reduced.
So what is a smart water network and how can it help? In its simplest terms it is a network where the monitoring of water pressure, flow and quality takes place in real time. The more frequent and widespread the monitoring, the smarter the network will be.
For example, if information on the network is collected hourly instead of twice daily, operators are able to more rapidly respond to issues such as water and energy losses through leakage, or other unaccounted water use.
Obviously, the more frequently the data is collected, the smarter the network, but this also needs to be balanced against the fact that data collection sensors require power to operate, which may require frequent battery replacement if other forms of energy (such as low cost narrow-band technology) are not available.
As our cities and regional population centres continue to grow, increasing demand is being placed on water, energy and communication providers.
As a result, these utility providers need access to real-time decision making tools to maintain their networks and provide information for future planning.
Customer expectations have also changed. The policy of charging for water based on the value of the property, which had nothing to do with the cost of provision, was abandoned a long time ago for a structure where users pay a fixed fee for connection and a variable fee for the water they consume.
Customers accept this concept but in return they expect nothing less than high service quality and performance at sustainable pricing levels.
Aquadvanced™ is an innovative solution developed by SUEZ to support water distribution operations.
Aquadvanced helps monitor and control the water supply networks by providing a dashboard and optimisation tools to support efficient decision making.
Bringing together multiple IT systems, Aquadvanced allows water operators to evolve from traditional to smart network management.
Aquadvanced addresses each component of the urban water cycle, including the resource, the treatment system, transportation and distribution.
Aquadvanced includes a suite of dedicated modules based on a framework of functions known as the Aquadvanced Foundation, which is fully integrated with the Operation Information System. Modules include hydraulic monitoring, energy management, water quality data collection and resource management.
They can be specified for an explicit role within the drinking water cycle, or they can be used across the whole network.
Australian urban and regional water systems deliver about two billion cubic metres of potable water every year, of which about 10 to 12 per cent is lost.
This equates to over $400 million in water production costs every year. Operating in real time, Aquadvanced displays flow and pressure across a water network enabling operators to monitor performance.
The system helps to identify any abnormal events, their locations and any customer complaints or operating actions.
Energy is a major component of a water utility’s operating costs and with rising energy prices, a smart network provides the ability to model and optimise system efficiency by automating the control of pumps and valves.
A recent paper from the Better Infrastructure Initiative¹ said that by lifting the quality of our existing infrastructure, there’s an opportunity to save money, deliver better services more quickly, and trigger valuable innovation.
In other words, there are significant improvements that can be made to our existing infrastructure – and smart water has a role to play.
For example, SUEZ is working in Barcelona, one of Europe’s smartest cities, where Aquadvanced operates across a network of 3.9 million people delivering 200 GL/year of water through a network of 4,600km of pipes.
Through this partnership, the city has demonstrably reduced water losses and optimised its network operations. Similar partnerships are in place in Versailles, France (20GL/year), in Macao, China (90GL/year) and in Casablanca, Morocco (190GL/year).
¹Re-establishing Australia’s Global Infrastructure Leadership – Garry Bowditch, John Grill Centre for Project Leadership, University of Sydney – February 2016.
This partner content is brought to you by SUEZ. SUEZ is actively seeking opportunities to work with water providers to introduce this technology in Australia. For more information, visit www.suez.com.au.