Leakage Control—Finding a New Resource from the Existing One

by Dewi Rogers,
David Duccini,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: World Water & Environmental Resources Congress 2003


It is estimated that by the year 2005, one person in two will have an insufficient supply of one of the world's most precious elements: water. Worse still, it is predicted that this shortage could even spark the next World War. So why then, in the light of such a catastrophic situation, do we readily accept distribution systems which often leak as much water as they deliver? More importantly perhaps, what can be done to remedy the situation? Nowhere is the importance of water so apparent than in the City of Jakarta, Indonesia. With the current population of 10 million estimated to grow extremely rapidly in the next five years, the prospect of acute water shortages on a massive scale is very real. With the existing resources stretched to their limit, the only feasible solution is to drastically reduce leakage levels. Traditionally, a passive approach to leakage location was adopted whereby the leaks were repaired only when they became visible. This approach has proved to be not only very inefficient, but highly ineffective. The development of acoustic instruments such as correlators and ground microphones has significantly improved matters, particularly in networks constructed mostly of metallic pipes having high operating pressures, where the noise produced by the leak can be easily transmitted and correlated. However, in a situation like that of Jakarta, where the operating pressure is often less than 1 bar and where the network is composed of non-metallic pipes, such instruments are of little or no value. This is why Palyja, the operating company which manages half of the network of Jakarta, instigated an innovative project with the object of significantly reducing leakage in networks which don't lend themselves to the application of acoustic techniques. The chance of successfully locating a lost personal item is significantly increased if the search is directed to one particular room of a house rather than a random search of the town. The same is true with leakage. By progressively dividing the network into zones, some permanent, others temporary, it is possible not only to monitor the leakage level, but also to direct the search always to those areas with most leakage. The problems encountered and resolved in Jakarta have been numerous. For example, the division of a network into permanent areas involves the closure of a number of line valves. If not undertaken with care, such an approach can have an adverse effect on operating pressures and water quality in the network. For this reason, it was essential to apply sophisticated mathematical simulation models to design the permanent boundaries. But as the Jakarta experience shows, by coupling the application of sophisticated techniques where applicable with a systematic approach, all problems can be overcome.

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