Finding and fixing leaks is a key component of any water saving strategy, but it's not always viewed as economically sound.
Jonathan Adler, Commercial Manager for Aqualogic Ltd., discusses the importance of innovation and vigilance in addressing leakage:
When I talk about leakage I am not thinking about that dodgy bloke at the pub or old Mrs. Jones when she’s had one too many Sherries and has a good giggle. No, I’m referring to water companies, still referred to by many as the ‘water board’. The bloke at the pub and Mrs. Jones are thoroughly embarrassed by their leakage issues, water companies are increasingly feeling the same and developing new and innovative solutions for an age-old problem.
Think about an entrepreneur you know from the telly. How about Lord Alan, an impressive business sage if ever there was one, or the spiky Deborah Meaden on Dragons' Den? Now imagine you are a contestant on their show and your company or team throws away one in every five products you make. Take a second and consider what their response would be...you’d be either fired or out of The Den before you could work out the meaning of ‘SELL’.
Well, for those of you that don’t know, SELL stands for the Sustainable Economic Level of Leakage and what this boils down to is if the cost for a water company to fix a leak is greater than the benefit of finding and saving that water, then Ofwat, the regulator, argues that SELL is the default position which gives consumers the “best value for money”.
Within our community we have exceptional organisations like Waterwise and WaterSafe, as well as the other outstanding members of the water efficiency community working within water companies, all fighting tooth and nail to get every resident in the UK to use less water and become ‘water efficient’ (quite right too).
It is generally accepted that the average UK leakage rate among water companies is 20% and around 25% of that is on the customer’s side of the water meter. That said, unaccounted usage, or leakage within domestic properties, does not have the same focus as the type of efforts water companies are making on their pipe network or in water efficiency campaigns.
It is time for innovation, for new technology to be grasped and taken forward, if not for our sake, for the sake of our children and grand children. All sensible members of the water sector community accept that there is a water sustainability issue with demand from the UK population growing faster than the available supply; so something radical needs to be done – not soon but now.
Now is the time for water companies to be making a shift to intelligent networks so that a watchful eye can be kept on those ageing pipes 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Now is the time for water companies to look at the model for finding and fixing leaks and challenging its economic and environmental effectiveness. And now is the time for the current delivery model to be ripped up, embrace the now and invest for tomorrow.
As a society, we should be taking leakage seriously. If it were you in the pub, I’m sure you wouldn’t let it go on for long!
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