Bangalore’s Water Crisis – Insights from a Swiss Technology Company

Continuing our blog series on efficient water management systems from Switzerland that can be implemented in Bangalore, we present technologies and solutions from Swiss industrial technology company, ABB. A pioneering technology leader, ABB has expertise across the complete cycle of water and wastewater management from extraction and treatment to metering and distribution.

Krishna H. Prashanth, Head and Vice President, Measurement and Analytics, Industrial Automation at ABB India tells us more about ABB’s innovation in water conservation –

Could you briefly describe the water management technology developed by ABB and its implementation in cities across India?

All these years, the municipal authorities have been relying on manual or conventional electronic meters to measure a wide range of flow rates. However, traditional metering techniques have been inefficient due to the limited scale, accuracy, reliability and frequency of data availability because of various manual operations, downtime and limited power options.

ABB’s intelligent metering solutions contribute towards automating the water network management. The AquaMaster flowmeters from ABB offer low flow detection with very high accuracy, together with the low cost of ownership. The flowmeter is equipped with a transmitter with GSM radio technology and integral GSM antenna and SIM, which allows the transmission of data even from a remote location to the municipal control center. The solution thereby helps improve the efficiency of the network by –

‒ Providing reliable data at desired scale & frequency without manual intervention.
‒ Providing valuable data analysis helping reduce Non-Revenue Water (NRW).
‒ Preventing apparent losses caused by inaccurate metering and pilferages.
‒ Preventing unbilled authorized consumption.
‒ Managing the assets in operation during its life cycle with Self-Diagnostics capabilities.
‒ Full range of power supply options for the lowest cost site preparation and energy usage, including solar/wind power.
‒ Remote data accessibility & GIS mapping for efficient asset management.

ABB’s smart flowmeters are operating in various other parts of the country, including Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai and parts of Rajasthan, ensuring efficient monitoring, tracking and billing of water usages, helping the city corporations to reduce the share of non-revenue water as India steps into the era of smart cities and optimized usage of natural resources.

How has this technology been implemented in Surat, a city that has high water consumption patterns?

Surat is the country’s diamond capital and textile hub, home to over 5,000 diamond merchants and roughly six lakh power loom that process roughly 20 million meters of fabric every day. As the city aims to build a sustainable future as a Smart City, one of the major issues it is trying to tackle is optimizing the water-intensive textile industry, in a situation of rapidly depleting groundwater, by bringing in better water management. The Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC), the governing civic authority, has been trying to reduce water waste and adopt a digital solution to automatically track the consumption in the city.

ABB has deployed over 240 AquaMaster flowmeters across the Pandesaran area of the Surat city, which has numerous textile mills, and other locations in the city such as engineering college, hospitals and hotels. ABB’s flowmeters installed in the inlet pipes of the municipal water lines enables automatic meter reading (AMR) that measures water flow and send precise readings to the corporation’s central control center through GSM connection, eliminating the burden of manual data collection and reducing error in readings. The data collected from the readings provide computer-generated monthly and quarterly reports on the consumption patterns.

Has it been effective in Surat? If yes, what is the difference it has made? How can it be scaled up further to other cities?

For Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC), it is helping in measuring water consumption accurately and detecting the leak precisely. At the same time, it is helping SMC receive more revenues from accurate and reliable water metering. Today with ABB AquaMaster, SMC gets 95 liters back from 100 liters water flow. The remaining 5 liters are a piping loss. Before the installation of ABB AquaMaster, SMC used to get only 60 liters back. This reduction in wastage and precise calculation is made possible using AquaMaster. Going forward, the SMC is mulling over introducing this technology in every residential and commercial building.

This model can be replicated in any city. In Bangalore, for example, Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has installed over 110 AquaMaster to continuously measure and provide online consumption data along with the line pressure monitoring. The data is sent to central SCADA through GSM network for automatic monitoring and central metering. After realizing the benefits of ABB AquaMaster, BWSSB has made such smart meters an integral constituent of any future expansion plans.

What are some other technologies or solutions for water management from ABB that could be implemented in Bangalore?

We have a wide range of measurement and analytical products that address issues of flow, pressure, temperature, level and liquid quality. Our added value, are strong capabilities in electrical and digital integration. Our range of electrification and power solutions and the SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system can enable monitoring and control at the sewage treatment plants, water pumping stations and drainage systems, while our range of energy efficient motors and drives enable efficient movement and pumping of water from the source of water like the rivers in and around Bangalore to reservoirs and even within parts of the city event at the pumping stations. ABB provides integrated automation and electrical solutions for the entire water sector, as well as critical field and plant components that deliver high-quality data to its bespoke ABB Ability™ control system for water.

How can ABB play a role in supporting the smart cities in India to plan for sustainable water management?

Almost 40 percent of water consumed in India is not metered due to various causes including leakage. We need to have solutions that help detect leakages and measure them at different points in the system and collate them at a single point. Only then will one be able to get a holistic view of water leakage and the gravity of the situation.

Another important area is the efficiency of pumping and the energy consumed by pumps. ABB offers control systems that effectively manage to pump so that energy consumption is kept minimal without affecting water availability or its distribution. Because access and availability of water vary across different parts of the country or a particular city or state, ABB offers scalable and flexible solutions including –

‒ Performance monitoring, advanced control, optimization of operation: improved efficiency, availability, productivity.
‒ Comprehensive horizontal and vertical integration possibilities: control system components, field instrumentation.
‒ Integrated information management system supports decision making.
‒ All of ABB solutions are backed by a strong service network, essential to keep systems running and getting the most out of investments made in water management systems.

Bringing more than 100 years of flow measurement and control experience ABB has developed solutions that leverage digitalization ensuring “measurement made easy”. This means moving further into the supply of data from devices and offering applications that enhance the value of their measurement data.

The opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author.