New water system cuts energy by a third in growing Chilean neighbourhood

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Pumping system has helped to solve previous water problems

Five years ago, Tejas Verdes had only 300 connections to its water supply network. After a real-estate boom, 2,300 connections are now hooked up. This caused stress on a system that could not handle the high pressure. Photograph: Grundfos

Until five years ago, Tejas Verdes was a small affluent neighbourhood in the Chilean city of Talca, with only 1000 people and 300 buildings connected to the water supply network. In the wake of a real estate explosion, the neighbourhood now has 2,300 connections and around 10,000 residents.

The population growth increased the demand for water. For instance, during the match between Chile and Brazil for the knockout stages of World Cup football in July 2014, water consumption dropped during the first half, but rose sharply during the break, when everyone rushed to the bathroom.

A new pump system detected the situation in real time, and adjusted the pressure appropriately to maintain the required flow at all times throughout the neighbourhood.

Tejas Verdes is the first suburb in Chile to try the Demand Driven Distribution (DDD) system from global pump manufacturer Grundfos. A controlled pressure system reduces leakage loss, and as a result- energy costs. The system has the ability to control many pumps at the same time, ensuring reliable and constant water pressure.

Previously, whenever there was a big demand for waterthe pressure became too high for the pipes to cope. The system broke down, losing a huge amount of water before it could reach people’s homes.

Residents of the affluent Chilean neighbourhood, Tejas Verdes, now have a stable water supply. The Demand Driven Distribution pump system detects when water demand is high or low. Photograph: Grundfos

“We were looking for a solution when Grundfos offered us the DDD system,” says Germán Wolf, assistant manager of process management at Essbio-Nuevosur waterworks in Chile.

Reduced energy consumption

Jose Parra, inspector of Essbio-Nuevosur’s network department, is in charge of operations at the Tejas Verdes plant. He says the new system has eliminated breakdowns.

“We used to have an average of four yearly events of this kind,” he says, “but since the installation, the plant has had no problems with the pipeline.”

After 18 months, energy consumption had dropped by 32%, while water loss declined by 3.3% in the first six months.

The company has set itself an ambitious target to reduce electricity consumption, and cut in half the percentage of water lost before reaching the customer by the year 2020. It is also considering implementing the system in 51 plants that provide water to a million households elsewhere in Chile.

From day to day, Parra says, he uses a computer or smartphone to make sure everything is operating the way it is supposed to.

This news item was originally posted on The Guardian website. To read the original news story, click here.