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Improving leak detection in Italy with satellite technology

Tuscany, Italy

Water utilities in Italy are using advanced satellite technology to drastically increase the number of pipe leaks detected and as a result, reduce the overall cost of non-revenue water. The project included 18 projects in 2016-2017 and involved the surveying of over 35,000 km.

Topics Covered

Water Supply & Drought
Energy Efficiency
Asset Management

Cost

Initial: 115 Thousand USD

Funding

General Fund/Existing Public Funds

Project Status

Operational since 2016

Gov Champion

ARERA (Regulatory Authority for Energy, Networks and the Environment)

Problem Addressed

Maximizing the efficiency of leak detection is extremely important, as leaks are one the biggest contributors to non-revenue water (water that has been produced and is "lost" before it reaches the customer) and therefore biggest areas of opportunity for water utilities and local governments to contain costs and rates.

Traditional leak detection methods are challenging because they involve massive distances and therefore require large field crews. Traditional field crew linear leak inspection protocols produce approximately 1 leak per crew day. ARERA (Regulatory Authority for Energy, Networks and the Environment) of Italy required water savings and water utilities in Italy knew that any improvements that could be realized in the cost and time to find leaks would reduce the overall cost of non-revenue water loss reduction.

Solutions Used

Water utilities in Italy used the Utilis-directed protocol, which combines satellite image points of interest (POI) and the leak detection field crews acoustically identifying and correlating the leak, in partnership with 2F Water Venture (Utilis' local partner).The POI map allows the field crew to focus their time and energy on less than 5% of the total system length, which minimizes time in the field and maximizes leaks found.

This fact generates the positive value proposition, because it costs the same to fix a leak no matter how it is found. Acda (Azienda Cuneese Dell’Acqua) is the public company that manages the integrated water network for 100 municipalities in the mountains and piedmont areas of Cuneo, Italy. After nine days of field work with personnel from Utilis, 2F Water Venture, the internal Acda acoustic team found 43 leaks, 4.8 per day. Acquedotto del Fiora Spa is the largest utility, ATO, of the Tuscany region managing 55 municipalities (all 28 in Grosseto province and 27 in Siena province). A total of 66 leaks were found, 5.5 per day. Multiservizi Spa is a public utility which manages the integrated water system for 43 municipalities in Ancona and Macerata provinces. It has a total pipe network of 5200 km and supplies 28ML per year to its 400,000 customers. A total of 26 leaks were found, 3.25 per day.

Outcomes

1

The points of interest provided by Utilis allows the field crew to focus their time and energy on less than 5% of the total system length, which minimizes time in the field and maximizes leaks found.

2

Massive increases in the number of leaks found per day compared to traditional methods (~1 leak per day identified) and resulting cost savings. See specific metrics in 3-5 below.

3

In Acda (Azienda Cuneese Dell’Acqua), 43 leaks were found (4.8 leaks per day).

4

In Acquedotto del Fiora Spa, 66 leaks were found (5.5 leaks per day).

5

In Multiservizi Spa, 26 leaks were found (3.25 leaks per day).

Who Should Consider

Water utilities and local governments looking contain water rate increases by identifying more leaks and reducing non-revenue water.

Last Updated

Apr 7th, 2019
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