On 13 and 14 March, water leakage practitioners from all over the world convened at the Amba Hotel Marble Arch in London for the 9th Global Leakage Summit 2018. This meeting, which is regarded as the must-attend event for professionals in the field, focuses on developing efficient water networks while ensuring resilience of supply and sustainability. It also aims to encourage the use of the latest advances in leakage technologies to deliver improved network operations.
These goals are very much in line with those of the Dreampipe Challenge, an international competition run by the UK Aid-funded Ideas to Impact programme. Dreampipe aims to find innovative ways to mobilise funding from non-traditional sources into reduction of non-revenue water, which is the difference between the amount of water supplied by utilities and the amount billed to consumers. Causes range from physical water losses from leaking pipes, to commercial losses, such as incorrect or lack of billing, unauthorised water consumption and corruption in the utilities.
By featuring the most innovative and successful examples of delivering and maintaining reduced leakage levels across the world, the 9th Global Leakage Summit, which was attended by Froeydis Gording from our Dreampipe Challenge team, provided useful insights. Practitioners included Alice Jahn, permanent secretary of Malaysia’s Ministry of Utilities, Michael Toh, Director of Water Services – Public Utilities Board, Singapore, Mel Karam, CEO of Bristol Water, UK, and Nicki Russell, Managing Director of Waterwise, UK.
Three key insights
- It is important to consider lifespan costs, as opposed to just installation or maintenance costs. The case was made for stainless steel pipes, as they may have a higher upfront cost, but require less maintenance, which makes up for their higher initial cost over the lifecycle of the pipes.
- Being culture sensitive and adapting methods and approaches for each situation is key. For instance, some found that using women as bill collectors in Central Asia resulted in a higher level of payment than with male collectors. Reportedly, this was because the bills were collected during the day, and women who stayed at home were more comfortable opening the door and handing money to a female bill collector than to a male one.
- It is crucial to link city development plans with water treatment expansions, instead of viewing any part of the water system in isolation from the rest of infrastructure. This should also be done in sufficient time to allow for a strong and sustainable development.
These are just some of the highlights which we found the most relevant for our Dreampipe Challenge, which has just closed its second phase and will announce winners during the International Water Association Water Loss Conference, in Cape Town, South Africa, in May 2018.
If you want to stay up-to-date with what we will learn throughout the competition, watch this space.