Taking Water On Board To Save Others From Sinking

Berlin 28 August 2013

EVE® Street Drones

The condition of municipal water distribution networks in Central, Eastern and Central Southern Europe is at best poor. Even after investing billions of Euros of Public Money into improving the delivery of local utilities the vision of providing everyone quality potable water suitable for drinking is still a long way off. But by taking new technologies on board we believe we can make a real difference.

Improving Technical Due Diligence

Better technical due diligence methods must be implemented to improve utility management and high-tech solutions such as EVE® Drones can do much to conserve water, save money, reduce CO₂ emissions and improve the quality of drinking water and life for millions.

SOLIDEA Group EVE® team are developing EVE® Drones, Google software and FLIR TAU aerial technology to better serve technical due diligence of water utilities in Central and Western Europe.

As SOLIDEA Group EVE® team pursue huge opportunities in reducing CO₂ in the water and utilities industry the deployment of thermographic technology is taking on a new role. Low flying unmanned drones can quickly collect thermographic data on the water supply network using state of the art FLIR cameras which register changes in ground conditions where water loss occurs. Computer guided EVE® Drones remotely survey water leakage and have the capability to map the defects of an entire water distribution network in a single day.

Water Loss  

The average European City looses more than 50% of its municipal water through water leakage. Much of this water loss could be mitigated and new investment in water utilities could be found if water leakage could be better detected, if the scale of water leakage could be better prioritized and if water maintenance resources could demonstrate better efficiency.

Water loss can generally be defined as a loss of a valuable commodity between the pumping station and the water meter. Where leakage occurs water pumps have to work harder to maintain the delivery pressure. Pumping at any increased or higher pressure not only wastes energy it also increases the frequency and scale of leakage. Where frequent leaks or unmanageable water loss occurs chemicals are added to reduce the risk to public health adversely affecting the quality of water making it undrinkable. Altogether water leakage is a very costly business.

Managing Water Loss

On the ground it is very difficult to find water leakage even with the most sophisticated leakage, thermographic and other state of the art detection equipment. Even in advanced system management much detection of water leakage relies on performance data between pumping stations and intuition or guess work.

Water engineers are often only able to respond to water leakage when it becomes a visible problem at ground level. Water loss management regimes often rely on inaccurate data to deploy resources for water distribution maintenance and repair.

“Digging random holes in the street to identify the source of water leakage for most authorities and utilities demonstrates far less cost effective than living with water loss. Most European Cities have a so called Economic Level of Leakage where the community simply lives with a level of water loss”.  


Benchmarking Water Quality and Improved Delivery

The measured benchmark for water leakage is the “Water Loss Per Head of Capita” this KPI provides a good overview of the  system, an insight into its management regime and the quality of the water it delivers. Berlin for example has a very low “Water Loss Per Head of Capita” accordingly the Berlin Water Utility delivers its customers drinking water.

Most Cities in Europe continue to fall way short of meeting the delivery performance or the benchmarks set by Berlin and the water quality in Europe generally continues to decline.

Through better leakage detection in Central Europe and deploying a better due diligence regime in the South SOLIDEA Group EVE® team hope to add significant value to Water Authorities and Local Utilities throughout the region. Having the ability to review an entire network provides the Water Provider the ability to prioritize water leakage to plan and better use resources in containing water leakage to significantly reduce water loss.

All in a Day’s Work

An EVE® Drone follows a set flight path, each mission the drone surveys a is a distribution line between two or more node points these nodes are pumping stations, inspection chambers or critical junctions in the supply network, generally the path between the two is a relatively straight line.

Although each Drones mission takes only minutes it provides all the necessary EVE® due diligence data on ground conditions. Thermographic information around the supply network is very sensitive to leakage detection in certain conditions and it means that the scale of leakage can be readily identified. The speed of the operation means that the EVE® team can inspect whole districts in one shift.

Plotting defects in the network  

The piping network between each of the nodes is recorded with intense thermographic FLIR imagery which is fed into and plotted on a single module plan of the water utility. The ability to map a complete network and over Google Earth provides an easily integrated critical new cloud based map layer of information which can be supported on almost any hand held device. The system provides the water engineers pinpoint ground condition information and a list of priorities without the need for imagination.

SOLIDEA Groups EVE® team are working in house with Poland’s Express Map to produce a prototype presentation for utilities and to distribute in a format at every level. Providing a utility information resource through an independent provider assist local authorities to provide transparency on utility management and for future investment at all levels. Once the utility map is formatted and in service repeat surveys in future can be implemented over exiting data saving cost and time.

Road Maps For Water Pipes

Advanced technical conditional survey of a water distribution network provides the platform for a definitive water leakage reduction plan. A typical road map for water reduction that would target reductions of say 20% per year of the “Economic Level of Leakage” could, in time half many Cities “Water Loss Per Head of Capita” such a road map could free up existing resources and create new investment with the ready supply of “Drinking Water” which can deliver “Real Value” for many communities before the end of the decade.

Water Quality

Water quality is directly impacted through system leakage. In order to protect the water supply route and safeguard it against contamination and infection water authorities increase the use of chemicals making water supply less than drinkable. The worse the condition of the water the less drinkable the water.

More than 80% of Gelsenwasser AG Germany’s largest water suppliers end users say that they are very satisfied with the “drinking water” a statistic EVE® team would like to see mirrored in the rest of Central and Eastern European Communities one day.

More About EVE® Drones

The EVE® team are professional users of thermographic equipment and use hand held and other FLIR technology to deliver the highest quality of service in the technical due diligence industry. EVE® Drones are ideal for 3D energy surveying of buildings transport and infrastructure. FLIR is the world’s leading technology provider for thermographic systems.