In the past years, our 3 NAIADES pilots have been busy developing innovative smart water management solutions to respond to the pressing challenges related to water in the city. Through a series of brief interviews, we catch up with the pilots representatives on the progress of their work and the lessons learned so far.
In this interview, we checked in with Iulian Mocanu, from the Braila Pilot:
What were the key water issues you tried to address in the Braila pilot and how have the NAIADES solutions contributed to resolving them?
The absolute biggest problem we've faced in Braila has been that of undetected water loss. Our network is ancient by today's standards, featuring materials like Cast Iron and Asbestos-cement that have degraded in the 50+ years since they've been in service. But since most of our pipes run along sewer lines, what happens is that the inevitable ruptures in the water pipes break into the sewer lines. All that flow just goes out to waste water treatment station without leaving any sign on the surface, on where the rupture point occurred. We can still see it in the balance sheet, we know we pumped more water than was used. With the NAIADES Project, we've set up an array of flow sensors, pressure sensors and noise sensors that actually allow us to detect where that loss is taking place, and we can do it remotely, we hope even with improved accuracy with the help of the AI systems. This improves our detection time by a lot, since we don't have to go and manually listen to every pipe or put a camera into every sewer line to see which ones are breached. The data tells us where to go.
What are the key lessons learned from the Braila pilot?
Data. Data, data and more data. It's the foundation of the NAIADES Project and it is the means by which we can solve most of our issues without the high cost it would take to outright replace the aging infrastructure. We're planning on increasing the sensor amount and expanding this data driven approach to the entire city. We already have new metered areas planned, we have flow meters in place, we'll soon have more pressure sensors, we'll be bringing in more noise sensors and we'll use all that data to know, constantly and accurately, where we need to act. The better we understand our network, the better we'll be able to not just repair it when needed, but fundamentally change it to make sore that waste, even when it happens, is limited and manageable.
What is your vision for Braila, after the NAIADES Project?
Ideally, we'd like to reach a point where every part of the city is broken down into its own metered area. Where we know how much water is going in to what area and from where, with a precision that we now just don't have. We'd like to have a level of granularity to the data that we'll be able to detect even the smallest leak. This won't just help us reduce our loss, which in the current climate context is becoming a critical issue, but it would help the consumer by improving the service. We should be able to detect leaks that take place in the customer connection line, before their own meter, and fix them in a timely manner, so that the water isn't contaminated and pressure doesn't drop. We're still years and years away from this goal, but one step at a time we can get there.