The Road to Calmer Water Networks

Reagan Hawkins is an expert in Calm and Smart Networks

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For many years now pressure management has been an invaluable tool for water companies in the fight against leakage, in simple terms any existing leaks will reduce when pressure is decreased, zero pressure means zero leakage but unfortunately this also means zero water to customers. The industry has grappled with this conundrum for many years, optimising pressures to reduce stress on the network and the associated leakage, while delivering a quality service to their customers.

Over recent years, there has been an industry shift away from the term “pressure management” more towards the idea of a holistically calm network.

What is a “calm network”?

A calm network should be viewed as a network that is optimised in such a way as to maintain a constant equilibrium, fewer fluctuations in pressure & flow reduce the stress on the network. This reduced stress and optimised network not only reduces existing leakage but also the out break of new leaks, provides customers with a consistent service with fewer events of low pressure or water discoloration.

This is however easier said than done, water networks are complex systems with factors such as topography and geography making it difficult to fully optimise systems without costs spiralling out of control.

What is the current level of maturity across uk water companies with regards to calm networks?

Water companies in the UK appreciate the benefits of operating a calm network however historic strategies and policies have meant that overtime, companies have focused on different aspects when managing their business. Companies have diverged in terms of their focus, some companies focusing on customer metering and another focusing on pressure logging as an example. The graph below showing the wide range properties covered by pressure management schemes i.e pressure management coverage across the companies.

Data reported by water companies, as shown in the figures above, indicates varying levels of network calmness or, more precisely, differences in calm maturity. A company positioned to the right of the graph, with lower coverage, will need to enhance its coverage to align with the maturity level of a company positioned to the left.

How can companies improve and where does WRc fit in?

As part of Water UK’s public interest commitment programme, WRc were engaged in a project to define a calm network and produce a matrix to help UK water companies understand their maturity level in relation to network calmness.

WRc conducted industry research and engaged with companies through a series of information-gathering interviews to identify eight key scoring mechanisms for measuring the calmness of a water network. Additionally, WRc developed a short questionnaire for completion by each water company to assess its maturity score against these mechanisms, along with an overall score ranging from 1 to 5. Companies can utilise the results to pinpoint areas for improvement, with the questionnaire serving as a roadmap for potential projects (such as increase coverage of pressure management or calm network training) that could enhance their score, but also help companies monitor progress over time.

Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

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Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

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Reagan Hawkins

Head of Calm and Smart Networks

2024-03-26 12:13:00