Team Kenya’s Solution for LE34 & GWCL Challenge

Mapping & Classifying Water Distribution Network Changes to Reduce Water Loss in Ghana

Accra has a population of approximately 2,514,00 with a current annual growth rate of 1.58%. This rapid urban population has led to the rapid development of infrastructure which has in turn led to increased infrastructural congestion. The congestion has also led to construction of structures and roads in areas originally not designated for them.
The exact location and path of water distribution networks is usually not known to most contractors leading to damage of the networks and loss of a lot of water. (I haven’t addressed the water leakages coz we aren’t dealing with that). This has raised the need to generate/ create a method/ way to map out and classify these water distribution networks. This will aid contractors to avoid hitting/damaging the existing networks when excavating foundations of structures and in turn reduce and possibly eliminate excessive water losses.

The research focused on various solutions taking into consideration the technical difficulties and the financial difficulties that may be incurred when implementing the solutions. The criteria used to come up with the final solution was that it had to be cost-effective and be easy to implement. From the problem statement, it was clear that the problem was two-fold –the water leakages was from lack of proper signs showing the exact location and hence damage to pipes and secondly lack of proper planning systems in the City.

In most projects, monitoring and regulations play a critical role in ensuring that everything is going on as planned. Sensors in the water pipeline system would ensure that any leakages in the system is properly monitored. These sensors would work as a leak detection system and when any leakage is detected the whole system will shut off preventing more loss of water.
Although the idea is very promising, it would require the whole water distribution system to be redone which is not only capital intensive but also human-intensive. The location of such sensors would also be problematic as each sensor would have to be programmed differently due to the sub-mains along with the system. In addition, the usage of water during the day varies, hence the sensor would have to be designed with this particular aspect as a consideration.

Programmable metering devices
We felt that water loss due to pipe leakages could be very minimal as compared to water loss due indiscipline in water usage. A person can use 100 litres of water to take a shower, simply because the mains are always full, yet we are considering 40 litres water loss due to pipe leakages as the main problem. We decided to work on a solution to this by coming up by a programmable water meter. A meter that will allow only a certain amount of water to pass per day. This will be based on the water demand of a building, institution, or industry. These will foster discipline in water usage and many will benefit from the treated water. This does not mean we supply less water; in fact, the meter will allow for some extra water in that it will supply more than 100% of the daily requirement, however, the consumers will not have the freedom to use water as they want but as they should.
Water losses due to leakages are also increased by the fact that detecting leakages is solely left to the supplier. The metering process above will ensure that detecting leakages is the responsibility of both the supplier and the consumer. This is because water going to a given region is also rationed. If all the consumers did not get enough, not because the meter closed but because the expected volume did not reach the apartment or institution, the consumer will immediately contact the supplier. The supplier will respond immediately and this will reduce water losses.
Programming not only means controlling the water passing but also that the water set to go to a certain region can be changed at any time depending on the situation at the treatment plant. It may be increased or be decreased.
The solution would take time and therefore we decided to work on the one for the app, which was also in the interest of the country. We will continue working on the solution from now onwards and hopefully, the development will be complete by the semi-finals.

According to the problem presented, water loss is due to lack of knowledge of pipe locations. We decided to come up with an application system that will show the location of these pipes. The app will be showing an individual having the app the following information; the pipes near his or her vicinity, and the distance to these pipes from his or her current location. The application will allow for future changes in the pipe network. That is, a new network may be laid down in future and still be added to the app.
We developed the app using data from Dedan Kimathi University of Technology for reasons of; need to test the app, and due to limited time. coordinates of imaginary pipes were obtained by use of a Garmin GPS provided by the university Civil Engineering Department.

To solve the challenge in Ghana it is necessary for the Ghana water company to provide all the coordinates of the existing pipe networks. The application will then map out the distribution networks and the application can then be shared with various stakeholders for the testing (confirmation) and implementation phase.