The need to repair the ageing water infrastructure sitting in cities like Los Angeles is becoming more and more acute. Utilities are increasingly concerned about the lifespan of their systems and how quickly parts of it will need to be replaced. Mark Gimson, a regional sales director at Singer Valves, tells Fluid Handling International that the company can provide a ‘complete solution’ by combining water infrastructure with technology.
According to Gimson, Singer is always looking to improve valve performance and implement ideas generated from customer experience, focusing on research and development to stay ahead of their needs.
Across industry, more is demanded for less. Singer’s customers are getting less in their budget, using ageing infrastructure and seeing a growing lack of water in some regions—making running a water utility more difficult. To address this suppliers don’t just offer equipment, but help their customers understand the problem and work out a solution.
“If we can feel their pain and fully understand their challenges, then we are able to provide valuable insight and the best solution specific to their situation,” says Gimson.
Clients can assume that new water plants and expanding distribution networks are the solution to these troubles. But Gimson says that reducing leakage rates alone can ‘dramatically’ improve water supply.
In South Africa, Cape Town is experiencing an ongoing water shortage, with the crisis at one point threatening to completely deprive the city of water. The city has identified twenty-five pressure management zones that will benefit from pressure management control valves over the next three months, says Gimson. Savings for these zones has been estimated at around 12 million litres per day.
Along with doing more with less, much of the economy is moving over to ‘smart’ solutions, the same is happening for valves. Gimson sees it in the context of smart cities: those with, among other things, interconnected infrastructure and resource management. A smart valve, for example, could measure flow and take pressure readings, giving operators more information on which to act.
Automation is also a part of this idea: “As labour costs increase and utilities have to do more with less, it makes perfect sense to automate. We have seen this in simple ways such as control valve pilot systems mounted in above-ground kiosks [to] avoid the necessity for multiple staff to climb into confined spaces to check on valves. Automation of some tasks just makes sense.” This move makes even more sense in context of the prevailing skills shortage in technical fields.
Gimson says the bottom line is that the public needs to understand the costs of providing water, a difficult task considering that potable water is taken for granted in much of the world.
“Most utilities are under pressure to give quality drinking water at lowest price possible and at 24/7 availability. Everyone expects their water to be readily available and potable.
“This will become more and more of a challenge as our networks age and costs keep rising. Water is finally starting to get the respect it deserves but educating the public to see that all of that comes at a price is a challenge.”
As costs grow for utilities and demand for freshwater increases, anxieties over supply are bound to grow and changes by consumers—like those made in Cape Town—more urgent.