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Smart Water Project of the Year

For the project that most effectively harnessed digital solutions to achieve excellence in water or wastewater management in 2017.

Mecca Smart Operations Project, Saudi Arabia

What is it?

Striving to contribute to the ambitious Saudi Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia’s National Water Company (NWC) implemented a SAR50 million ($13.3 million) Smart Operations Project in Mecca, switching from manual to automated operations. The project covered a 25.5km2 area, encompassing a colossal 996km pipe network and 28 reservoirs.

Who is involved?

National Water Company is the owner of the project, while International Aramoon Company, a local leak detection and sewer repair specialist, acted as the main contractor. The breadth and complexity of the solution is reflected in the broad range of partners, which include Xylem’s data analytics holding, Sensus, automated solutions provider ABB, and valve manufacturer VAG Valves.

What makes it special?

Mecca faces unique water consumption challenges, with over 2 million pilgrims descending on the Islamic holy site for a six-day period every year. Because of this, 90% of the region’s assets exist solely to support the water supply throughout this holy period. During Hajj, pilgrims must undertake physical activities under sweltering conditions, resulting in enormous peaks in water consumption at certain times of the day. The ensuing network pressure fluctuations make maintenance of a continuous water supply extremely challenging.

The installation of an advanced SCADA system and an army of online pressure sensors enables network pressure to be measured every second. The in-house development of a smart operations system that automatically operates control valves based on live pressure measurements ensures that water pressure is continuously maintained throughout the Hajj season.


The combined result of NWC’s pioneering innovations enabled the successful pumping of 30 million m3 of water into Mecca and the Al Mashaer region during the 2017 pilgrimage season, maintaining the quality of water services during peak flows and boosting customer satisfaction to new levels.


Christchurch Pressurised Sewer Project, New Zealand

What is it?

When a devastating earthquake hit Christchurch in 2011, the city’s infrastructure was substantially damaged. With storm induced wastewater overflows, within the sewer network, Christchurch City council engaged Iota services, which installed its ingenious OneBox and BlokAid technologies. OneBox monitors and controls sewer flows, while BlokAid monitors manholes and alerts operators to dangerous levels of wastewater, allowing timely intervention and spillage prevention.

Who is involved?

Iota Services – which is owned by South East Water, the second-largest utility in Melbourne, Australia – partnered with Christchurch City Council to deliver the project. The City Council commissioned New Zealand’s own pressurised sewer system specialist, Ecoflow, to install and commission the OneBox system as well as supply its E/One power-efficient pumps.

What makes it special?

With significant repairs necessary to restore basic services in the city, Christchurch City Council’s infrastructure budget was spread thin. The installation of OneBox units to undertake flow management, has minimized the need for new pumping stations and transfer mains, amounting to savings of NZ$8 million (US$5.5 million). This was the first time OneBox had been deployed outside of Australia.

After experiencing roaming issues with the OneBox modem, Iota Services developed a novel system where the OneBox controller can automatically select the telecommunications carrier with the best signal strength, ensuring stable connectivity without the need for manual intervention.


OneBox’s unique algorithmic approach dynamically smooths out peak flows to pump stations and treatment plants, diminishing the need for new treatment plants and storage. OneBox’s multi-functional nature means it can also provide data for detecting illegal plumbing connections and real time alarms with remote diagnosis via a web portal - pinpointing the source of blockages.

The Global Water Awards 2018 is proudly sponsored by:

Evoqua logo, links to Evoqua homepage

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