Romanian utility company chases water leakages and energy savings

Every time a person in Bucharest turns on the tap, the water flows far. Around 2,500 kilometres of pipes are hidden underground, transporting the water from outside Bucharest into the city and its more than two million inhabitants. Working on improving pipes and pumps is privately-owned water supply company Apa Nova Bucharest, part of the Veolia Group.

- We have quite an old water network, so every day we are working on optimising it so the inhabitants of Bucharest get a stable water supply. And we want to do it in a way where we use less energy and minimise loss of water, says Director Arnaud Valleteau de Moulliac.

Apa Nova Bucharest took over the responsibility of running the Romanian capital’s water supply in 2000. Back then, the water network, including pumping stations, was in very bad shape, nobody had water meters in their houses, the water supply was unstable and many pipes were leaking. Since then, Apa Nova has improved the water quality by changing approximately 20 kilometres of pipes every year and optimising the pumps, which means that the electric power consumption has decreased by 70 per cent since 2000.

- We have come a long way, but there is still room for improvement, I must say. We are always striving to do better, and I don’t think that I will ever be completely satisfied, he says.

Intelligent system

Arnaud Valleteau de Moulliac explains that Apa Nova has already adjusted the more than 200 pumping stations connected to the systems. All pumps and installations were delivered by Grundfos in the period from 2001 to 2009.

Searching for further savings, Apa Nova has entered into a project with Grundfos in which the Demand Driven Distribution (DDD) solution is being implemented at a pumping station, which delivers water to approximately 50,000 people.

The DDD solution consists of several parallel connected pumps, running one or more at the time according to the consumers’ needs. This will not only save energy because of the intelligent controller adapting output to the actual needs for water throughout the day, it will also ensure that the network is less stressed than normal, which means water is not wasted due to leakages.

- We have a close cooperation with Grundfos, and we always invest time and money in our network. We see this as a good opportunity to see how much more we can lower our energy consumption and water leakages, he says, explaining that a DDD solution will be the icing on the cake.

Spread out the solution

At the Titan pumping station in eastern Bucharest, the pumps are driving water through the 24 kilometres of pipes in the surrounding area. But the DDD solution can make the pumps run even more efficiently, according to Sales Manager for Water Utility in Grundfos Romania Leonard Stroe.

- Right now, we are measuring how much energy is being used when we run the pumps more intelligently using a special controller, and we can see that it is possible to save up to 15 per cent in this area, he says, highlighting that the number could be higher at other pumping stations.

In other cities, where the water network runs with a constant pressure, the potential savings can be up to 50 per cent.

Arnaud Valleteau de Moulliac explains that the area being tested is representative for a part of the high-pressure network, and he expects that the solution can be used at other pumping stations, too.

- Our main driver is to use the most innovative technology available, and the DDD solution is one of them, he explains.

Learn more about DDD here or read the case about Dunea water company in Holland.