In order to achieve the aims in the water supply systems management, the authorities in charge must guarantee a maximum efficiency and effectiveness of the supply service. Pipeline breaks can cause significant problems and can create inconvenience and disruption to consumers, as well as high costs in the short, medium or long term.

water supply systems

1. Water supply network breakage example.

Factors affecting pipe and fitting failures in water supply systems

Breakdowns in water supply networks can be caused by three main factors: environmental, operational and structural. These factors imply constant control and monitoring that must be taken into account during all operation phases, from design to material selection, from installation to maintenance.

  1. Environmental causes:
  1. Operational causes:
  • Pipeline working pressure;
  • Cathodic protection is used to reduce pipe corrosion, mainly on metal pipes.
  1. Structural causes:
  • Pipeline aging;
  • Diameter and material of the pipes;
  • Length of pipeline and number of fittings.
network breakdown

2. Damages caused by network breakdown.

Costs in water supply network breakdowns

Having analysed various types of failure that can affect water networks, we can now examine costs types that have to be covered. It is possible to differentiate three main categories of the costs types: direct, indirect and social.

  1. Direct costs: repair and replacement material costs are among the immediate ones to be borne (pipes and fittings, labour, etc.). In addition, there is the loss of water and potential compensation to be paid for damage caused directly to the properties.
  2. Indirect costs: this category includes the loss of income resulting from the interruption of water supply and the costs related to damages caused indirectly to infrastructure and roads that are ruined by the leak.
  3. Social costs: all those costs that cause inconvenience to the final consumers and to all those actors who are affected or limited by the leakage are included under this point. Not only the lack of service, but also the traffic blocks and the restriction to productive activities.
repairing the network line

3. Activities and costs for repairing the network line.

Types of intervention

Now we have a clearer picture of the costs, but we have not yet mentioned the types of intervention that can and need to be carried out in order to solve the breakdowns. Actions can vary according to the type of intervention and the characteristics of the place where the damage has occurred. Among various types of intervention we may mention:

  1. Complete pipeline replacement
  2. Pipeline repair through appropriate solutions
  3. Refurbishment of the existing line

For operators, adopting a good monitoring and control system, like Pipe Tracer developed by System Group, purchasing quality materials and carrying out periodic maintenance of the pipelines, significantly reduces the risks of unpleasant breakdowns.