WRc has been asked to develop a collaborative Portfolio project questioning whether the use of district metered areas (DMAs) will continue to offer the optimal approach to distribution network management.
With almost universal adoption and coverage within England and Wales, there is no doubt that DMAs have been a very successful tool in reducing leakage. Their use has also expanded through the provision of a convenient geographical area in which to manage water quality issues, capture asset data and measure asset performance. However, with greater emphasis on customer service and cost reduction, as economic levels of leakage stagnate, and as flow and pressure measurement techniques improve, it is important to question whether DMAs will remain relevant.
WRc has been asked by a number of water utilities to transition to more open network scenarios, which may provide greater benefit. Through improved flow regimes, more stable pressures, and reduced potential for creation of water quality incidents from operation of boundary valves, it will be possible to increase network resilience, improve customer service, and reduce energy costs. However, it is important that any such developments be accompanied by an equal or better approach to leak detection.
The objectives of this collaborative project are therefore to:
- explore and quantify the benefits of open networks in terms of customer service, leakage reduction, burst frequency, interruptions to supply, water quality, energy efficiency (pumping costs) and asset information;
- identify ways of achieving the open network whilst maintaining or reducing leakage;
- determine the practical limitations or restrictions to the use of open networks;
- define the appropriate locations and situations for their application;
- assess financial costs and benefits and likely timescales for implementation/ transition.
This will ensure that distribution networks remain fit for the 21st century.
For further information please contact Mark Kowalski at firstname.lastname@example.org or tel: +44 (0) 1793 865080.