Skills Vital To Stem The Flow
23 November 2010, News release from DEVELOP
In light of the statistics in Ofwat's annual report, which show a record number of water companies failing to meet leakage targets, water management is once again in the spotlight.
Six out of 21 companies failed to meet their annual targets and Develop Training, the UK's leading technical training provider, says that a co-ordinated effort is required to overcome this significant issue.
Always a high priority for those in the industry, the detection and management of leaks is not a new problem. Even back in Roman times controlling water losses was an important part of water distribution and crude measuring devices assessed how much of the water supplied reached its destination!
Since then the battle to reduce and control losses has been never ending, although today's water engineers have highly sophisticated equipment to enable them to tackle the problem in a variety of ways.
And evidence most certainly suggests that progress has been made. However the combined impact of increasing demand and climate change means the problem of managing our water supplies is becoming more crucial than ever before. Couple this with the growing media interest in the activities of water companies and these practical needs combine with the demands of the public for efficiency - defined in their eyes as a company with no leaks.
"This problem needs to be tackled head on, in a co-ordinated manner, if it is to be resolved," said Ian Clarke technical trainer in utilities at Develop Training. "Water companies need to work together to put their innovations, knowledge and practical technology into practice to detect and repair leaks.
"Having the right people for the job is a vital part of this integrated approach and the skills shortages currently being suffered in the water industry must be addressed if we are to move forward. There is no substitute for industry experience and knowledge and the industry needs to recognise this and invest in its workforce."
Traditional techniques of water leakage detection involve using a listening stick or sounder, a thin metal pole with an earpiece at one end. These have developed into ground microphones, which amplify the sound produced by a leak to enable easier detection. This technique of listening for leaks is the mainstay of leakage detection and will probably never be completely replaced, but it requires skill, knowledge and above all experience to be accurate.
Technicians should also be trained to use a two-point correlator, which uses sensors deployed at two locations either side of where a leak is suspected. The difference in the arrival time of the leak noise at each sensor, coupled with the knowledge of the pipe material, diameter and length, enables the leak to be pinpointed precisely.
Acoustic loggers are a third method of leakage detection, of which technicians must gain experience. These are remote listening devices, which are installed on pipe fittings and are programme to listen for leak characteristics. By recording and analysing the intensity and consistency of noise, each logger indicates the likely presence or absence of a leak and operatives must be able to analyse this data.
Develop Training is at the forefront of industry innovations and skills improvement. Past trials with JD7 and Anglian Water trialled a new pioneering surveillance method for detecting leakage involving using a small camera with underwater microphone which is fed inside the water main from a fire hydrant or other similar access point, feeding back valuable information to a screen above ground.
Ian added, "Practices and techniques have developed rapidly over the past few years and we work hard to stay up to date with leakage technology so that our NVQ qualifications are as relevant and topical as possible."
Develop Training delivers Leakage Detection NVQ's Level 2 and 3 which are accredited by CABWI. Funding can be applied for on behalf of all eligible candidates.
For further information or to discuss your funding options please call 0800 876 6708 or visit www.developtraining.co.uk
For further information please email DEVELOP