Smarter water management can go a long way to save precious water

July 9, 2017, 3:23 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: VOL. 10, NO. 22, July 07, 2017 (Ashadh 23,2074)

Although the 28-kilometer-long Melamchi Tunnel will begin to bring almost 17 million litres of water in Kathmandu from next year, it cannot guarantee adequate supply of water until the water leakage from the pipeline, at thirty percent now, is managed.

As smart water technology is getting increasingly available around the world, there is a way out to reduce the leakage of water supplied from the pipes in Nepal, too. Two experiments with Small Town Water Management have already shown the effectiveness of smart technology.

Realizing the need to contain such a massive leakage, Melamchi project is now considering using the technology. With 51-km bulk distribution network, in 670 km distribution network system, there is the need to have a technological system to check the leakage.

Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Ltd (KUKL) is procuring a computerized system to monitor and control distribution of water brought into the Kathmandu Valley by the Melamchi Water Supply Project.

All the bulk distribution will be controlled by the computerized system, ending the existing practice of controlling water supply by opening and closing valves manually.

As Melamchi is using Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) software, it will be the first effort in Kathmandu to use smart technology. SCADA will control water supply from reservoir tanks and other bulk distributions.

At a time when there is a growing concern over the leakage and quality of water supply, experts stress the need to use technology in water supply and WASH.

Initiated by former vice president of Asian Development Bank Dr. Bindu Nath Lohani, a day long discussion was organized in Kathmandu recently. This was the first of its kind to discuss intensively the use of technology in water distribution and supply system.

The workshop, organized jointly by Society of Public Health Engineers, Nepal, with support from Nepal Telecommunication Authority, aimed at generating the awareness among the policy makers on the issue of smart water management technology.

Although the initiative for the smart water distribution system has already started in some areas, it is too small. Supported by Asian Development Bank, some Small Town Water Supply projects have been using smart technology in water distribution.

Smart meters will enable it to introduce paperless billing system, replacing the existing paper-based record keeping and tariff assessments. Such controlling and monitoring will be effective up to District Metering Area (DMA) from different water supply substations.

“We cannot waste time now. Nepal needs to move quickly to integrate the water supply system with smart technology. Technology will also help to supply the quality water,” said Lohani.

Expressing his views on Smart Water Management and Use of Technology, Dr. Youn-sik, professor of INCHEON University National University Korea, said that use of technology can help to manage the water supply system more efficient and better. “Korea has a long history of using the technology in the water management and Nepal can also learn from our experience.”

“Nepal has already introduced smart technology in small projects small town projects. The time has come for us to move ahead. As the number of employees has reduced in the water supply system, only the technology can recover it," said Bhim Upadhyaya, secretary of Ministry of Water Supply.

Addressing the program, NC member Dr. Shrestha said that Nepal has no option other than to use the technology in the efficient management of water.

Chief of Nepal Telecom Authority Digambar Jha said the authority is now in the process of expanding the broadband network throughout the country. Director General of Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Tej Raj Bhatta said Nepal needs to introduce all the available smart technologies in water distribution system. "Nepal has already introduced some of the smart technology like GPS monitoring, online billing into its system. However, it is right time to introduce technology into water supply system."

Former minister Ganesh Sha said that everyone is talking the buzz words like smart city, smart phone and smart water management. The time has come to implement policies to realize what we have been saying. “Using technology, we can make Water supply and WASH sector more efficient.”

Chairman of SOPHEN Ramdeep Sha said that for the first time in Nepal, a workshop was discussing smart water management issue. “SOPHEN will increase this kind of activities with the support from NTA.”

Although smart technology is a bit expensive, they can monitor water consumption as well as manage bill payment system like the ways telecom companies are doing.

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