SUEZ Uses Outcome Driven Analytics to Deliver 24/7 Water Supply to Growing Communities in India

Pipe condition assessment with the Scanner (SmartCAT®)

In 2011, nearly 70 per cent of households in India had access to tap water – of these, only 62 per cent had access to treated tap water. This scenario is changing with increased emphasis on water and sanitation infrastructure reform programmes like the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), aimed at achieving sustainable solutions in the water and waste sector by 2030, but in many cities the water provided does not comply with existing per capita norms and cities are rarely able to meet standards set by the Manual on Water Supply and Treatment (CPHEEO).

In many cases, water supply is intermittent and the networks for transmission and distribution have high non-revenue water losses of 40-70 per cent. In Coimbatore and Davanagere, SUEZ worked with the municipalities to design, construct and maintain networks that can provide continuous, 24/7 potable water supply, as part of an innovative asset management approach inspired by the new ISO 24516 series for water supply and wastewater systems.


To address the challenge associated with the availability of data, SUEZ developed a systematic approach to “fi lling the gaps” for the buried water assets in the networks. This included the integration of the following digital tools and processes:

• Systematic base mapping process using satellite images

• In-house digital platforms such as Real-time Operation Performance system (ROPeS) which enabled paperless, industrialised and reliable asset and customer data collection

• Ability to set up and manage a field task force of over 100 surveyors Using these tools, SUEZ was able to collect valuable asset and customer data efficiently and make it available in a structured data warehouse for further application and analysis, including the development of a WaterGEMS hydraulic model. 


For feeder mains, pipe condition is difficult to obtain, and nondestructive methods are applied. Locations were selected to be statistically representative of the whole system. For that purpose, degradation clusters were defined using machine/deep learning processes. The best representative samples were then selected using artificial intelligence to ensure that the sample maximised accuracy and minimised the investment required for the survey. 

In Coimbatore, 10 locations were selected as representative of the 126km of feeder mains. 

The “Scanner” helped the operators to qualify the structural state of metal pipes. It is a non-destructive technique performed in-situ with no disruption of water supply required. The equipment induces magnetic flux into the pipe wall and identifies locations where this flux is displaced from the pipe wall due to non-metallic defects. 

The implementation of the Scanner required a prior excavation and cleaning of the pipe. Eight scans of 1.5m length were performed all around the pipe, which requires rotating the position of the instrument by 22.5° after each measurement. Data was also collected on the soil characteristics, as well as the presence of water in the pipe. 

The ePulse® from Echologics. Source: Echologics

The ePulse® from Echologics was applied to assess approximately 0.5km of pipes at five locations, on AC and CI pipes with diameters ranging from 250-350mm. This method uses acoustic sensors that are attached to existing contact points or directly in contact with a pipe. A sound wave is induced in the pipeline, and the acoustic sensors capture the time it takes for the sound wave to travel between two sensor stations. The speed at which the sound wave travels is dictated by the condition of the pipe wall. With this technology, one can understand the average residual thickness of the inspected segment. Preparation works for this method were required in order to ensure that the selected segment of pipe was continuous with accurate descriptive data, that contact points were available and that noise disturbances were identified.


Using the data collected and the innovative approaches described above, SUEZ was ready to embark on the challenge of designing network improvements to provide 24/7 supply. To achieve this hydraulic level of service and in the most cost-effective manner, SUEZ utilised Optimatics’ Optimizer™ platform. 

Optimizer™ leverages artificial intelligence, advanced automation and the computational cloud to simultaneously balance cost, risk and level of service against an explosion of new factors utilities must grapple with to better serve their communities. For water supply and distribution networks, Optimizer™ evaluates hundreds of thousands of potential capital and operation strategies for network improvement assessing the risk reduction, TOTEX and level of service of each strategy. 

For Coimbatore, SUEZ was able to develop a strategy using Optimizer™ that provided 24/7 supply for 15 per cent lower TOTEX when compared to the original strategy that was developed using just the WaterGEMS model and engineering judgment. Optimizer’s ability to simultaneously assess cost, performance and risk provided confi dence in the adopted water supply strategy and transparency in its development. The other advantage realised was the ability to perform sensitivity analysis and assess diff erent costing models and demand peaking factors in an effi cient and timely manner. 

Network modelling of distribution networks using the Optimizer™

Optimizer™ continues to be used by the SUEZ team to adaptively manage the transmissions network planning and is also being utilised in the design of the distribution networks in Coimbatore. 


Converting intermittent water supply systems into 24/7 supply is a CAPEX-intensive activity. Advanced digital tools can help optimise not only the operational performance but also the design and the prioritisation of works. 


*Article can be found on Water & Wastewater Asia Jul/Aug 2019 issue.