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Understanding flow to manage the network and reduce leakage

Network Flow Performance

For managers of water distribution networks, flow volume time series in the network, for example, for a District Metered Area (DMA) or a supply area, are difficult to interpret. They are by nature complex. The flow volume time series are important in the detection of leakages, wrong valve positions and other anomalies that can hinder the continuous supply of drinking water.

To support water companies in dealing with these challenges, KWR developed the Network Flow Performance tool. Its clear display of varying flow volumes during a time interval supports the interpretation of known and unknown processes, which can influence flow volumes in the network. These features make Network Flow Performance an important source of information to effectively reduce water losses, gain insight into customer behaviour and control distribution processes.

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Standard registration provides the data

The Network Flow Performance tool uses KWR’s Comparison of Flow Pattern Distributions (CFPD) method to analyse flow volume data in distribution networks. Based on the supply patterns during different periods in a specific area, CFPD provides a qualitative and quantitative picture of variations in demand and water losses resulting from leakages in the area. This offers insight which directly contributes to effective operational management and leakage reduction.

Network Flow Performance benefits:

  • The tool uses data that are already standardly registered by water companies. It is also free of underlying assumptions or uncertainties, which distinguishes it from many other models.
  • The above-mentioned characteristic also implies a cost saving, since the tool doesn’t require any investment in the generation of missing data.
  • It uses data measurements taken throughout the day (in contrast to Minimum Night Flow analysis).
  • Limited time resolution (one measurement per hour) is not an obstacle.
  • The method is very robust with respect to data gaps.
Network Flow Performance

Complex flow volume time series are converted into easy-to-read diagrams which highlight the relevant information.

The CFPD method in practice

The CFPD method, which is the foundation of the Network Flow Performance tool, was developed in 2011 for water companies by KWR, and in 2012 tested at two of them: PWN and Evides Waterbedrijf. In both cases, it helped identify the reasons for inconsistencies in the water balance and provided a better understanding of the companies’ own networks and the data that they collect about themselves. The water companies also point out that the tool, apart from identifying water losses, can also be used for effective monitoring that can prompt adjustments in operational management.

The (further) development of the CFPD method occurred within the framework of the joint research programme for the water companies. In addition, KWR was part of the European INCOM project, which aimed to apply the method to the large dataset of Eau de Paris, the water company of the city of Paris.