A major water resources agency in the Calabria region of Italy recently set out to expand and modernise its drinking water supply network. The agency, Società Risorse Idriche Calabresi (Sorical), wanted to restore the hydraulic efficiency of its operations as part of this plan. Xylem’s Lowara-brand borehole pumps helped the agency reduce energy use by 30% at each well and doubled, and in some cases tripled, the water extraction rate – part of Xylem’s work to help communities around the world optimise water management and advance sustainability.
The Sorical water agency provides over 274 million cubic metres of water per year to the Calabria region, which has a population of 1.96 million people. The agency is responsible for managing the large water supply network and drinking water treatment plants in the region. Every day it supplies water to almost all the municipalities of the Calabria region, through 6,000 kilometres of pipelines, 300 lifting stations and 900 reservoirs and tanks.
While the hydrogeological and climate conditions of Calabria might make the region appear rich in water resources, these resources can be undermined by climate change, low rainfall and human overuse.
To meet these challenges, Sorical focuses every day on assessing and monitoring available water resources and demand for water. It also develops plans to reconfigure, expand and modernise existing water plants. To date, the agency has committed €256 million ($310 million) for these plans, in addition to further investments over the next decade. These plans are primarily focused on extraordinary maintenance of the plants, in order to extend their lifetime, and the replacement of old or damaged pipelines
Overhauling existing wells to increase efficiency
A large part of the agency’s maintenance work has been devoted to the ordinary and extraordinary maintenance of its existing wells, in order to improve their energy efficiency. This maintenance is crucial to the agency’s operations, since half of the drinking water used in Calabria comes from groundwater resources, through a network of almost 300 wells.
One good example of this maintenance is the upgrades made to several well-fields. Water extracted from the wells is distributed to the cities that lie between the Ionian Sea and the mountainous plateau known as La Sila. Some of these wells, built at the end of the 1980s, showed signs of wear and decay due to age, with clogging drains, corrosion, and encrusted filters and pipelines. These factors, combined with the pumps being used, resulted in energy and cost inefficiencies.
To enhance its operations and mitigate this problem, Sorical set out to fully restore the hydraulic efficiency of the wells through mechanical brushing, jetting tools and other methods. These actions eliminated encrustations and deposits that had accumulated on the inner surface of the pipework, improved the filters, and removed sand and debris.
Sorical also replaced the pumps inside five wells with Xylem’s Lowara Z8 submersible borehole pumps. The pumps have a high-efficiency design, including dynamic wear rings that reduce hydraulic losses to a minimum, reduce energy use, and prevent the pump from blocking during standby periods. The pumps are ideal for use in water supply from deep wells, pressure boosting, and water distribution in municipal and industrial systems.
Xylem brands have been producing borehole pumps since 1931, including supplying borehole pumps to the International Exhibition in Paris in 1937. The Lowara pump’s dynamic wear ring is a unique Xylem solution developed after many years of research and experience. The dynamic design gives it key advantages at high and low pressure. In addition, the rings reduce wear by minimising the internal flow through the wear ring clearance, so that less solids, such as sand, are carried into the wear ring area.
Doubling and tripling water extraction rates
Thanks to the Lowara pumps and the agency’s maintenance work, Sorical has reduced electricity consumption at each well by 30%. The upgrades and overhauls have also made it possible to double and even, in some cases, to triple the amount of water extracted from each well. The smooth operation of the wells has led to an overall cost reduction.
In addition to this work, Sorical is replacing obsolete pumps, including installing high-quality, energy-efficient pumps that have saved about €3 million ($3.6 million) in energy use.
Among the selected pump suppliers, Xylem provided more than 35 Lowara borehole pumps for wells across the region. These pumps are part of Lowara’s Z Series (Z8, Z10, Z12), made of stainless steel and with a semi-axial flow, making them a good choice for corrosive and abrasive environments. The pumps are also highly efficient, both in hydraulic performance and energy use, making them especially reliable and durable.
With Sorical’s strong focus on continuously improving operations, combined with its adoption of energy-efficient borehole pumps from Xylem, the agency is helping deliver water more sustainably to the entire Calabria region.