Costly for the environment, the consumer and the infrastructure, leaks in the water distribution networks fuel an innovative action plan at the Brussels manager Vivaqua.
The production and distribution of drinking water does not come naturally. In 2019, the Brussels operator Vivaqua was unable to bill 13%
The production and distribution of drinking water does not come naturally. In 2019, the Brussels operator Vivaqua was unable to invoice 13% of the “blue gold” volumes produced. The public company has therefore initiated an action plan to remedy this. With a very specific objective: not to produce “at a loss” some 2 million cubic meters per year in the Brussels-Capital Region, i.e. the annual consumption of the people of Jettois. “The project aims to reduce leaks through the use of new technologies to improve efficiency and performance: sectorisation, intelligent software and the use of satellite images”, says Miguel Sebastian Santamaria, project manager. Sectorization consists in increasing the number of distribution zones delimited by meters and valves. These sectors make it easier to objectify incoming/outgoing flows and, a fortiori, to detect losses more quickly. For smart monitoring, the manager uses continuous analysis software between actual consumption and estimated consumption. The algorithm alerts in the event of a significant deviation but also collates small differences. This makes it possible to prioritize the developments of the sectorization or to begin systematic searches for leaks in the field. As for satellite detection, Vivaqua uses the same process as NASA to search for water on the Moon: an onboard scanner in orbit scans the earth’s surface to identify soils saturated with drinking water. With incomparable efficiency compared to conventional methods. “Our vision is to reduce the loss of drinking water in a context of generalized water stress. But also to reduce the consequences of leaks for all of our 2.25 million customers spread over the three Regions, specifies Laurence Bovy. , Managing Director. The economic gain is a secondary consequence of the ecological objective.” Even saving 2 million annually, fewer leaks means only slightly reduced production (120 million m3 in 2021). It is nevertheless an increased protection of the water resource. The action plan has borne fruit since last year, Vivaqua reduced unbilled water volumes to 9.5%. Vivaqua preserves drinking water, a vital resource, over more than 3,100 km of pipes in the Brussels Region. But like any business, this producer and network manager must reconcile profitability and sustainability. The water company cannot afford to turn off the tap, even in unprecedented situations such as confinements. Vivaqua claims priority protection and well-being, while having to carry out its missions. Resilience mainly translates into preventively avoiding the consequences of leaks. “Preventive and planned repairs generate less cost and less impact – for citizens and staff alike – than repairs carried out in an emergency after the appearance of damage”, underlines Miguel Sebastian Santamaria. FRANÇOIS REMY Preventive and planned repairs generate less cost and less impact than emergency repairs.