9th Global Leakage Summit 2018



The Scale of the Problem

The volume of water lost from leakage (physical losses) and from inaccurate customer meter readings and theft of water (commercial losses), together add up to Non-Revenue Water (NRW).  Volumes of NRW can be very high, with utilities frequently losing half the annual volume of water they produce.

With better access to updated water company data a recent study estimates that global NRW is in excess of 100 billion m3 per year 

It is therefore no surprise that managing and reducing leakage and NRW is still one of the major operational tasks facing water utility operators, and one of its biggest headaches!

What are the 'hot topics' for the 2018 Global Leakage Summit?

Resilience of Supply

Resilience is affected by climate change and drought. In the light of climate change mitigation and adaptation regulators and operators are putting a greater emphasis on water efficiency - not previously part of economic regulation. With a predicted 20% increase in UK's population over the next 20 years, much of it in drier areas, and a predicted 20% reduction in summer rainfall by 2050, as well as the risk of too much water being taken from rivers, the key lies with demand management, a policy that is now firmly  'at the heart of resilience'. 

'Ensuring Efficiency, Resilience and Sustainability' with key water efficiency experts and regulators (already confirmed) will be a major keynote session to kick off the Summit:

Jean Spencer, Executive Director, Strategic Growth and Resilience, Anglian Water

Nicci Russell, Managing Director, Waterwise (formerly Director, Ofwat)

Trevor Bishop, Director, Strategy and Policy, Ofwat (formerly Director, Environment Agency)

What can we learn from water use regulation in water scarce countries?   The Regulation and Supervision Bureau of Abu Dhabi and Israel's regulator - the Water Authority of Israel - may provide an insight into the how their policies and regulatory  practices promote efficiency among water operators and customers.

Leakage and Customer Demand

Can operators work more closely with customers to help drive down leakage?  Customers are already encouraged to report visible leaks or changes to pressure, but can they accept behaviour change to become more active in managing their demand and reducing per capita consumption?  This will require accepting new developments retrofitting water-efficient household devices, introducing compulsory household metering and 'smart meters' to identify excessive use and leakage in the customer's house, and a greater emphasis on rainwater harvesting and effluent re-use.  Essex and Suffolk Water is engaged on a home retrofit project, H2Eco, which has carried out audits of water use in 25000 homes, then working with customers and plumbers who want to take up the retrofit scheme.  Water saving is 22 litres per house per day for the 20% of customers who have taken part in the scheme, and the company is looking at how best to structure and frame incentives to encourage others.

Is the customer responsible for more internal plumbing losses and leakage than we currently believe? Waterwise, a UK not for profit organisation promoting water efficiency, has found that around 4% of water-efficient (dual flush) toilet cisterns fitted to new homes leak, losing on average 215 litres per day per cistern - 400 million litres per day. So do we need a new strategy to train and certify plumbers and builders to remove poor practice and ensure high quality installations?

We will hear from water companies that are trialling an innovative strap-on flow measurement device to measure household consumption more simply and at lower cost than a fitted water meter.

Changing Customer Behaviour

Then there is the challenge of changing customer behaviour. One UK water company (Essex and Suffolk) is looking at how best to structure and frame incentives to persuade customers to take part in a programme of home retrofit.  Behavioural economics are fascinating - early results show that metered households are more likely to take part, and high users are less likely.

We will hear results of studies being carried out by companies like Sutton and East Surrey Water, Essex and Suffolk Water and Severn Trent Water, who are interacting with customers to examine behaviour trends and changes.

Is smart metering going to make a difference? 

Smart metering is not just about giving customers a more accurate bill - it can be an aid to finding leaks on customer supply pipes and in the house.  It can also be a big driver to reducing leakage and customer use.  Low-cost clip-on sensors are already being piloted in several water companies to replace the more expensive permanent meters. Thames Water's smart metering roll-out programme is well underway, demonstrating the evolution from 'dumb' meters, through automated meter reading (AMR) to full blown advanced metering infrastructure (AMI).  Thames Water's Technical Development Manager will explain the drivers, the technology and the evolutionary process of one company's journey towards universal smart metering

Water/Energy Nexus - as well as saving water, water loss reduction programmes can  reduce or recover 'embodied' energy by means of energy auditing and rating, and by benchmarking energy efficiency measures.  An example of this is harnessing micro-hydropower in the distribution network and in the home.

Can innovation help to drive down leakage?

Is there sufficient emphasis on innovation in the global water industry? What innovation is still needed to drive leakage down to a level for the supply demand balance to be sustainable? 

-    How do water companies get funding for innovative projects?

-    Where does the funding come from and how are projects selected?

-    How are the cost benefits measured? 

We will hear the view of some of the key European water companies and international funding agencies (EC, EBRD) to respond to these questions in a structured delegate discussion session.  Several European companies are integral to EU funded programmes like Smart Water For Europe and WISDOM.

Low cost sensors

There have been great developments in acoustic sensor technology, and one UK water company, Affinity Water, has just undertaken the largest ever deployment of telemetry linked noise logging with 20000 units installed in an area of their network.  But how are these vast amounts of data managed - and used to best effect? We will invite a speaker from the company to update us on how the data are managed and analysed for better leak localisation.

But such sensor units are still cost-prohibitive for full network spread. What are the options - and the likelihood - for developing low-cost sensors? Can simple sensors do the job (the simpler the better)? How do they communicate with all the data coming from disparate and remote locations in the water network?  How can we harness the IOT concept to ensure that 'big data' are compatible with legacy systems?

When will the ultimate in low-cost sensors - 'sensor dust' scattered across the network - become a reality?  Can we do more with robotics and drone technology?  Drones are not yet seen as fully fledged connected IOT technology, but could play a significant part in the IOT acting either as a sensor or by providing a connection between sensors and data collection points. But can they work together with other drones to collect and act on the data?

And what are the developments with satellite imaging technology we heard about at the 2016 Summit? More water company trials have been carried out and we will have an update from water companies trialling this emerging leak detection technology.  Early results show that the cost of finding a leak is around £500 - how does this compare with drone technology, or the more conventional leak detection exercise?

Managing Upstream Losses - the challenges of large diameter pipes

Large diameter trunk (transmission) mains have always been the 'bête noire' of water networks - they are invariably large diameter, at low pressure, made of non- metallic materials, and often laid in rural areas - the worst combination for meter selection, meter accuracy, leakage monitoring and leak localisation.  What technologies do we have for improving this scenario?  We hear from meter specialists and monitoring experts on the latest technologies for addressing what is acknowledged as one of the most difficult areas of the network to monitor, but one which is essential for a correct water balance.   Anglian Water is the first UK water company to trial thermal imaging drones to localise leaks in the rural areas of Norfolk.  The drones identify changes in soil temperature, with area of interest followed up by a leakage technician to confirm the leak position.

Asset management - 'age is not important but calm networks are'!

Age is not necessarily a factor leading to pipe deterioration and increasing burst frequency.  But pressure transients and sudden hydraulic changes to the network are a major cause of pipe breaks.  Can we predict pipe breaks based on modelling historic pipe burst events and the estimated cause of failure - and by analysing the causes of transients - to help solve the 'repair or replace' conundrum (planned maintenance)?

Condition assessment is also crucial for replacing only those areas of the network that will benefit.  The Public Utilities Board (PUB) in Singapore, despite having one of the lowest leakage rates in the world, wants to be 'the best in the industry' and have just let a 150million SD (110 million USD) contract to examine the condition of their cast iron pipes.  We have invited PUB to share their results to date with us.


Speed and quality of repairs is one of the four major influences on the volume of losses in a water network (along with pressure, active leakage control and pipeline management).  4 million holes are excavated in the UK water network each year, at a cost of 1 billion GBP per year.  We hear much about better technologies for monitoring and finding leaks, but where are the innovative technologies for repairing leaks?  Minimum excavation technologies are used in the gas industry, but this can be difficult for water, especially when not all the pipes in a network are accurately recorded.  Trialling of in-pipe repair technologies seem to have stalled, and water utilities globally are still practising traditional excavation techniques.  Are there new technologies out there?   Could repairs be an essential part of innovation funding? Could GPS and satellite technology help to pinpoint the pipe breaks for lower-cost repairs?

Performance based contracts

Is 'contracting out' some leakage strategy operations more cost effective than training and using in-house staff?  What operations tasks are most suited to PBCs and which are not? 

There is now a wealth of experience in the cost-benefits and successes of PBCs from NRW case studies in Jamaica, Philippines and Bahrain.


Live Stream


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