As lakhs of Bengalureans struggle for water in the scorching summer heat, over 37% of Cauvery water supplied to the city is lost in distribution, pilfered or declared ‘Unaccounted For.’ Can dedicated sensors fitted inside pumps track every drop? Technology now makes this possible. The sensors could track and even predict distribution leakages by analyzing the water flow data from both domestic and commercial buildings. This was demonstrated in a Cambodian city by Danish firm Grundfos that is now in talks with the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) for an energy audit of pumping stations in the city.
The Cambodian problem was this: Due to a lack of constant pressure in the pipeline network, water quantity had dipped steeply at the receiving ends. “Pipes last only if there is constant pressure. We used data analytics to build a model to calibrate and ensure balanced flow in the network”, says Grundfos Global Water Utility’s Ground Vice-President Marianne Kjeldgaard Knudsen. Data analytics, smart sensors and remote tracking for timely plugging of leaks could potentially help the BWSSB arrest distribution leakages.
But the board’s thrust is also on strategies to reduce energy consumption at its pumping stations. Marianne talks about how every kilowatt saved at the pumping end could save four kilowatts at the transmission end. “We are talking to the BWSSB on an energy audit at the TK Halli water treatment plant. This will help in better asset management”, she explains. Elsewhere in India, the Danish firm has proposed solar-based water treatment systems to remove biological contaminants. “We have approached rural water supply boards to harness surface water by retaining vital minerals that are killed by Reverse Osmosis, for instance”. Working with the smart city programme, Marianne says, Grundfos has pitched its innovations in reducing non-revenue water. The focus is also on reducing the over-extraction of water from borewells.
“In Dhaka, we had created an inventory of borewells and launched a pilot to understand how much water is drawn from each well”. To reduce the volume of unaccounted-for water from a high 48%, the BWSSB had kicked off a Rs 164-crore UFW project in 2013. The focus was on replacement of all old pipelines of diameter below 100 mm, repair of leaks and cracks in old pipelines and crackdowns on unauthorized connections. Adoption of new technology based on data analytics and sensors is expected to accelerate this process.