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Improving Water Safety and Reliability for a UK Utility

Posted to Wipro in the Digital Utility Group
image credit: Wipro
Manoj M Warrier's picture
Practice Head for GIS & Mobility Steams Wipro

Manoj is the Practice Head for GIS & Mobility Steams at Wipro. He is an experienced Practitioner with demonstrated history of delivering Locational Intelligence and Integration solution to...

  • Member since 2021
  • 2 items added with 301 views
  • Dec 2, 2021
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Client Background

Client: A water utility company serving 15 million customers

Industry: Utilities

Products/Services: Water and wastewater services

Area of Operation: United Kingdom

Challenge

A UK-based private utility that supplies drinking water to 15 million customers wanted to improve the safety of its water supply by transforming how it handled sections of its distribution network that had been cut off from the rest of the system. Although new water flows through these “dead leg” sections, they often contain trapped water that can stagnate and become breeding grounds for microbes that may contaminate the water supply and pose a health risk.  Typically, identifying and addressing “dead legs” is a manual, labor-intensive process that requires the use of external water-quality teams. The utility wanted a faster, more automated process to reduce the threat and minimize costs.

Solution

Wipro worked with the business team to capture all the possible scenarios that could lead to the occurrence of dead legs within the complex water-distribution network. This discovery effort required understanding the logic and business rules of mitigating risks, as the solution would involve data engineering to integrate business logic with geographical information systems. For example, the Operations teams would need to be able to identify dead legs within a flow monitoring zone. This would enable proactive steps like flushing to reduce and eliminate dead legs from the network; it would also allow the utility to redirect water quality samplers and field teams to prioritize flushing for areas at risk.

Ultimately, the solution was a new automated workflow for dead leg identification. The user can use a custom tracing tool in the application to traverse the individual section of the water network, isolate and tag any potential dead legs. The new solution include the ability to track changes over time, which enabled the utility to generate reports on situations and actions taken. This helps in taking future corrective actions and to avoid repeat occurrences of dead legs.

Business Impact

By automating the identification process using location data, the utility improved the visibility of dead legs to its risk-assessment team and field engineers by more than 90%. That enabled the utility to be much more proactive at addressing dead legs situation, minimizing water quality events and improving public health. Water contamination incidents declined by 40%, and the new system also improved compliance with regulations from the UK’s Drinking Water Inspectorate. Finally, it reduced the utility’s need for external water quality teams, lowering the costs of managing and mitigating risks.

 

Who we are

 

Wipro Limited is a leading global information technology, consulting, and business process services company. We harness the power of cognitive computing, hyper-automation, robotics, cloud, analytics, and emerging technologies to help our clients adapt to the digital world and make them successful. 

Growing interest in sustainable energy sources, microgrids, and distributed energy, enhanced customer-centricity, and ever-changing regulations demand new business models from the energy and utility sector.

As a leading service provider across the utility value chain, with a strong commitment to building a net-zero global economy, Wipro is helping enterprises reinvent themselves to deliver superior business performance and more sustainable outcomes. With more than 4,500 professionals working across power, gas, and water utilities, we are a trusted partner to more than 75 utility customers globally.

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Manoj M Warrier's picture
Thank Manoj M for the Post!
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Henry Craver's picture
Henry Craver on Dec 10, 2021

Any idea on how UK water quality compares to American? Where I'm from, around Newark, New Jersey, there have been huge problems with tap water in recent years related to old lead pipes. Finally looks like most of those have been replaced, though. 

Manoj M Warrier's picture
Manoj M Warrier on Jan 7, 2022

Hello Henry, Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Use of lead pipes was widely adopted for it being more flexible and durable than options like iron. While it was banned in early 1900’s, it continued to be in use for mainly the service lines. Service lines are maintained usually by property owner and they are responsible for the replacement of the lines. These runs from the main lines to the service point within the property. This makes it difficult to the tracked and this challenge is the same in UK as well. While it is different problem than the Dead legs issue that we discussed in this article, use of lead pipes is also a major concern for providing safe drinking water to the consumers. Water utilities across the globe is implementing solutions utilizing water quality sensors across their network apart from frequent sampling to ascertain the water quality. This along with advance mapping technologies can be used to tag and identify areas and even extended to identify individual lines not confirming to the standards. We obviously have the technology to negate this threat but it is for the government and utilities to prioritize and fund these projects. And most importantly conscious efforts should be put together to educate and encourage citizens to understand the ill effects of having lead lines servicing their property. Consumers should be incentivized to make the switch which I think will be the fastest and most effective way to eradicate all the existing lead pipe lines in service.
Regards,
Manoj

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