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04/12/2019 in Innovation

Annual water losses amount to 346 billion litres per day, according IWA

In a world where climate change is challenging the very future of our society, and concurrently with the COP25 event in Madrid, finding solutions that guarantee water supply for our citizens puts Canal de Isabel II under the microscope.

New emerging rainfall patterns have a paramount effect on water supply. Unavoidably, they require a twofold approach in order to continue to be able to provide water to a continuously growing population: firstly, adopting the circular economy within the water sector, in particular by reclaiming treated wastewater as a new source of supply; and last, but not least, by managing demand.

That said, it is not just about the legitimate demand of our citizens. Particular attention must be paid to the unwanted part of water demand we would like to disappear: water losses. It is for this reason that the International Water Association (IWA) has decided to devote a day, the 4 December, to this crucial issue.

According to IWA’s data, annual water losses amount to 346 billion litres per day. Were we able to reduce this amount by only 30 %, there would be water available for some 800 million people.

Canal de Isabel II is the public company responsible for providing services related to the management of the water cycle in its entirety for 6.5 million people in the Madrid region. Over the last decade, we have intensified our battle against non-revenue water (NRW). As a result, it has decreased by 50 %, thus achieving a level close to 10 litres per pipe metre per day.

Broadly speaking, water losses can be split into two major classes. On the one hand, apparent losses, which does not any water loss in itself, but rather has a financial implication. On the other hand, real losses, which represent both a financial loss and an actual loss of water along with the energy that has been used to treat and transport it. Our effort should be focused on the latter, especially if we take into account the combined effect of climate change and population growth.

With this in mind, Canal de Isabel II has endeavoured to tackle the real loss issue. As a result, we have managed to reduce its level to nearly one third of the amount it used to be, reaching and holding at an outstanding level slightly over 2 litres per metre per day.

This result has been achieved through a multi-faceted approach. Given that that our network boasts some 17,500 kilometres long, the first obvious action has laid in splitting it into smaller pieces, namely about 700 DMA. Night-flow monitoring, combined with a comprehensive set of performance indicators that combine data coming from GIS, CIS, AMS and SCADA, have led to excellent results in the early detection of leaks throughout the distribution network. We are currently trying to improve upon leak pinpointing by monitoring pressure and noise within the DMA, as well as by using methods based upon satellite images.

Nevertheless, leaks in main pipes must not be overlooked. For this reason, we are also using a mix of state-of-the-art techniques, tailored to each type of pipe and its criticality, in order to detect and repair leaks in larger pipes. As an example, smartballs, noise-based systems and fibre optics are currently being either deployed or tested throughout our transport network.

In short, reducing losses is a problem of the uppermost importance. With this in mind, Canal de Isabel II is proud to be at the forefront in tacking this problem, and therefore our collaboration and support for the IWA Water Loss Day is a must.


Signed by: Javier Fernández, subdirector de Telecontrol.

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