With businesses responsible for as much as 40% of total freshwater consumption in regions, facility managers are encouraged to think more strategically about managing resources.

In a recent article with FM UK, Waterguard’s general manager, Claire Mason, explores the benefits that water leak detection can bring to organisations large and small. Here’s the full write-up, in case you missed it…

Non-revenue water – or water that fails to make it from the point of source to the end user as a result of theft, leakage, or mismanagement – can have a significant impact on not only water utilities, but organisations of varying shapes and sizes too.

According to Water UK, an average 3,113 million litres of water is leaked each day between treatment works and end users. Just to put that into perspective – that’s the staggering equivalent of around 1,245 Olympic swimming pools.

When coupled with the United Nation’s prediction that demand for water will outstrip supply by 40 percent by 2030, this exemplifies the desperate state of the industry and the urgent need for action.

Naturally, businesses are prime suspects when it comes to excess consumption. As well as having more resource demand to meet as a result of having more ‘feet on the ground’, many corporate operations are heavily underpinned by the use of water – whether it’s during production and manufacturing processes, site maintenance, irrigation and growth, or general use in canteens and washroom facilities.

And with organisations using some 20% of the world’s freshwater withdrawals – while consumption reaches as much as 40% in wealthier nations – it comes as no surprise that businesses are similarly responsible for the highest proportion of leaks, thus increasing water usage with no real benefit to operational efficiency, the economy, or planet.

But as the substance that enables all livings things to thrive and develop – from ocean life and nature on land, to the global human population – water sustainability is all the more important.

Now, more than ever, waterscapes and crucial resources are facing an unnerving challenge. Decreasing supply and increasing demand of water – not least in the corporate realm – have significantly stressed global supplies for decades, as the number of people on the planet grows exponentially, aquifers deplete at pace, the threat of extreme weather intensifies, and funding issues continue to plague infrastructure worldwide. And with the climate continuing to face crisis, this pressure is only expected to continue in its surge.

What many organisational leaders seem to forget on the route to net zero, is that gases aren’t the only harmful substance when it comes to business activity. Water and wastewater operations contribute to carbon emissions significantly, because the process is so energy-intensive. When a leak occurs, for example, pressure in the supply decreases and therefore more effort is exerted to satisfy the need for the resource.

If a municipality is able to minimise the amount of water both being treated and put into supply, it will reduce the amount of energy being consumed, leading to a drop in operational carbon emissions and improving an organisation’s green credentials.

Of course, there is no silver-bullet solution to achieve ultimate water sustainability, but there are certainly an abundance of activities that can make the way we live and work fit for future. The initial step? Recognising the value of the collective, and placing efficiency back on the agenda. With a strategic approach to resource management, facility leaders can play a critical role in mitigating the risks of wasted water and improving the planet.

To help kerb the crisis, smart water leak detectors offer an integrated solution to not only monitor and manage usage throughout your organisation, but to mitigate the disruption and financial strain caused as a result of emerging defects in the event of a leak.

Typically situated at a site or building’s water entry point, these intuitive systems work by tracking flow through any pipeline from the initial touchpoint – either by counting the volume of liquid passing through a sensor or sonically recording time delays. If any abnormalities are spotted in usage, automated detectors will immediately cut off the water supply with a solenoid valve.

So, as well as supporting the preservation of one of the world’s most precious resources, water leak detection also affords the gift of time. By identifying concerns at an early stage – often before a leak has actually occurred – facilities managers are able to explore underlying issues and undertake minor repairs before they worsen.

With the most advanced pieces of leak detection technology, users can adapt systems to suit requirements bespoke to their organisation or project too. Adjustable parameters and operational features will often include, for example, a maximum override time, options to customise a building or site’s time of occupancy, and specific guard levels to determine the longest length of continuous flow permitted when a space is occupied.

Plus, with key fobs available to manually reinstate supply, it’s easy to mitigate the risks of a leak whilst having minimal impact on essential operations – so no need to worry about deadlines or downtime.

And, because leak detection systems identify issues at such a premature stage, facilities managers can remove some of the budget-related headaches that come with larger scale damage that has been left unnoticed for too long. Rather than paying masses to rectify structural damage, fumigate mould and fungal growth, drain flooding, or replace piping, early leak detection will usually require a minor repair fee at most.

Let’s not forget that properties with a history of leakage also deplete in value over time too, so catching any troubles early on will save you money in the long run, too, should you choose to relocate your teams.

Crucially, water leak detection won’t remove the threat of water damage to assets, but will instead alert you to the threat as and when it occurs – enabling you to locate the source and act rapidly. Through this hyper-awareness of usage, facilities managers can not only ensure operations run as smoothly as possible, but also protect budgets and bring sustainable consumption to the top of the agenda. Having the ability to pinpoint leaks, bespoke to the typical usage habits of your facility, enables utilities to monitor network on a continuous basis and in real time to mitigate above-ground disruption.

While facilities managers that have previously fallen foul to the devastation a water leak can cause, there is certainly work to be done in terms of educating the industry on precautions that can mitigate such risks and cementing the idea that prevention is much better than the cure – and state-of-the-art technology is leading the way.

If you’re keen to continue the conversation, please get in touch with one of our leak detection experts today.