Why do we need a digitised water distribution?

Digital solutions can help fight some of the environmental and urbanising challenges that water utilities face daily. The technological development has made it economically feasible to digitise large parts of society and new technology such as Internet of Things (IoT) provides the water sector with new opportunities.

Challenges within water supply management

Every day, water companies face challenges related to water supply management. The potential impact of water scarcity; increased water consumption; high energy costs; urbanization and non-revenue water (NRW) are just a few of the challenges forcing water companies to think of innovative solutions.

Non-revenue water is basically produced and cleaned water lost somewhere in the water distribution system, never reaching the consumers. This means water not used or paid for affects local economies as well as local resources available. The problem is universal, ranging from NRW levels of about 5 % to as much as 80 % in certain areas. Clearly, there is a need for a more sustainable way of delivering water.

The challenge is to streamline the operation, maintenance, and increase safety of the supply network and water quality, and at the same time protect environment and water resources. An important part of the solution is to be able to monitor pressure, valve open/close position, and pollution in the distribution network.

Overview of the entire distribution net

With thousands of valves, fittings and hydrants installed across the distribution network, valuable information about its condition is right at hand. What if some of your most critical valves sent messages to you every time it was operated? Not just your valves, but also fire hydrants and from section inlets.

Based on data directly from critical points in your distribution network, you can make fact-based decisions that will help you manage your water distribution in a more sustainable and efficient way.

Advantages for local operations and for the environment

Digitalisation and transparency contribute to better structured and automatic operations. Digital solutions actively contribute to reducing water loss, energy consumption and operational costs as well as ensuring the water quality. It leads to huge advantages locally, and it contributes to overcoming global, environmental challenges. Furthermore, optimising the system to only distribute the needed amount of water will allow for energy savings.

International requirements

As a local water utility, you have the responsibility to ensure a safe water distribution for your consumers. However, it is a global challenge to take care of our water resources and ensure clean drinking water for all. Therefore, sustainable water supply is on the international political agenda.

UN goals for sustainable development

The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are designed to lead the world in a more sustainable direction. A digitised distribution network allows the water utilities to increase efficiency and reduce water loss – and thereby ensure protection of our resources. This way, it contributes significantly to the UN SDGs 6 and 11 to ensure clean water and sanitation and safe, resilient and sustainable cities.

EU Drinking Water Directive requirements

Digitalisation of the distribution net not only provides the transparency needed to support making the right decisions. It may also prove necessary in order to meet the efficiency requirements in international legislation.

The purpose of the EU Drinking Water Directive is to ensure safe and clean drinking water. It concerns materials in contact with the drinking water and limit values to be accepted in water distribution, and it focuses on risk management and lowering water loss.

In case of leakages and pipe bursts, there is a risk that contamination enters the pipe system. Therefore, each member state must evaluate and set targets to reduce water loss. New technology can efficiently support utilities in meeting these new targets by improving the way pressure can be managed, leakage can be monitored, and theft can be detected and avoided.
Member states must ensure that the complete distribution network is subject to a risk-based approach. A proper risk assessment includes considering how all access points to the water is managed and protected. Any risk assessment should also consider the risk posed by inappropriate pressures in the distribution network. Too low pressure entails risk on intrusion of contamination while too high pressure means higher leakage level and increased risk of bursts. Pressure and temperature sensors in the network and remote monitoring of hydrants and gate valves will ensure managing the risks the best possible way.


AVK Smart Water digital monitoring

Battery-operated wireless IoT sensors collect data directly from the network and turn complex data into valuable insights.