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Smart Water project of the Year: Shortlist

For the project that most effectively harnessed digital solutions to achieve excellence in water or wastewater management in 2018.

Shortlisted Nominees


Cape Town Day Zero demand management, South Africa

What is it?

As 2018 began, Cape Town’s future was bleak. ‘Day Zero’ – the day the city’s taps would run dry – edged closer, and most solutions to belay the crisis were too slow, complicated, or expensive. Utility Systems’ Water Management Device (WMD) offered a simple way to reduce water consumption quickly and played a pivotal role in avoiding Cape Town’s desiccation. When linked to a pulse output water meter, Utility Systems’ WMD enabled operators to manage the water supplied to each outlet, affording remote, two-way communication, configuration, and valve control.

What has it done?

Utility Systems developed its WMD entirely in house, but worked closely with regional distributors – Saki’khaya Suppliers – and the City of Cape Town to make sure the solution was rolled out quickly, efficiently, and exactly where the city needed it most.

What makes it special?

Utility Systems’ domestic demand management solution helped the City of Cape town reduce its consumption by a stunning 40% as it successfully avoided Day Zero.


After supplying Cape Town with WMD for 10 years prior to the crisis, Utility Systems’ WMD coverage doubled last year; ramping up supply and providing an additional 1,600-2,400 units/month during the crisis. The system now covers 30-40% of Cape Town households.

Utility Systems’ hardware will now form the basis of a new AMI and leak detection network for Cape Town. The data the system provides is an integral part of Cape Town’s long-term water security planning.


DC Water Pipe Anomaly Detection and Classification, USA

What is it?

DC Water has slashed network inspection costs with the introduction of its fully automated Pipe Anomaly Detection Solution (PADs) analytics platform. With non-revenue water levels running at 25% and an Infrastructure Leakage Index value of 9.94 (2015), DC Water was determined to improve its asset management systems.

Introduced in December 2018 after just 13 months of development, PADs replaced manual CCTV analysis as DC Water’s primary in-pipe inspection method, using artificial intelligence and neural networking to monitor assets.

What has it done?

DC Water partnered with software developers Wipro, as well as using open source neural networks and customer-developed code to hone its AI and machine learning applications.

What makes it special?

PADs can process footage more quickly than manual operators, especially when coupled with autonomous camera equipment. More pipe can be inspected in less time, maximising budgeting allocation and overall system stability.


It cost DC Water around $350,000 to develop the self-improving solution, with an autonomous camera unit adding only $60,000 to that bill. Considering a typical CCTV vehicle carries a $300,000 price tag, and factoring in the cost of specialist operators and PADs’ potential to guide pre-emptive maintenance, DC water is confident of achieving savings of 75% and an ROI period of just two years.

This cost recovery could be accelerated still further as DC Water markets the solution more widely. PADs’ adaptive algorithms have the potential to add value throughout the water industry and beyond.


Sydney Water Customer Hub, Australia

What is it?

Gathering and acting on feedback from up to 5 million customers in real-time, Customer Hub allows Sydney Water to be proactive in client communications and predictive in asset management. Customer Hub’s technology comprises a geo-spatial situational awareness tool (Spatial Hub), online customer portals, automated customer notification and feedback channels, and an Internet of Things (IoT) sensor pilot, simplifying Sydney Water’s complex water and wastewater networks, making identifying and scheduling maintenance simple.

What has it done?

Customer Hub was an in-house product, bringing together Sydney Water’s customer engagement expertise and service structures under a single point of leadership and making the most of their internal software development capabilities.

What makes it special?

Spatial Hub reduced water outages to around 100,000 properties in 2018, shrinking the number of customers affected by service interruptions by 25-30% annually. By reducing negative customer experiences and service impact, Spatial Hub has already saved Sydney Water over $800,000 in customer rebates.


Additional web channels allow customers to report leaks, view current water outages and register to receive notifications online. Over 20,000 leaks have been reported this way.

Customer Hub has piloted IoT sensors to better understand network performance and identify problems before they become customer issues. The pilot has already returned benefits, with 19 sewer blockages detected and rectified before reaching crisis point. This leading-edge technology will be continually improved to build its predictive capability and focus the Customer Hub on getting ahead of incidents.


Water supply network telecontrol system, Gran Asunción, Paraguay

What is it?

As part of the World Bank and Paraguayan government’s PY Water & Sanitation Sector Modernisation project, Empresa de Servicios Sanitarios del Paraguay (ESSAP) contracted Acciona Agua to design and install a revolutionary telecontrol system to automatically manage Gran Asunción’s water. At a price of just €2.2 million, the project has safeguarded drinking water supplies for 1.5 million Paraguayans. Automating a water treatment plant, 16 wells, and 15 distribution centres, and introducing a fully integrated SCADA system, the project exemplifies what is possible when cutting-edge technology is applied to water management.

What has it done?

Accciona worked closely with Schneider Electric which provided its ClearSCADA and Modicon platforms for the SCADA and remote systems respectively.

What makes it special?

The system design system allows for autonomous, optimised operation based on water demand and availability throughout the network. Programmable automata with digital inputs and outputs ensure signals are received from network assets and processed, maintaining operational stability with minimal input.


Even within the first few months of operations, ESSAP has reported significant reductions in the time taken to respond to service disruption events, reduced non-physical water losses, and increased value-added from operator input thanks to the availability of automatic real-time monitoring and diagnostics.

The system was designed to be scalable, as part of ESSAP’s overarching goal to expand the region’s drinking water network and automated management system to supply all Gran Asunción’s 2.7 million inhabitants.


The Global Water Awards 2018 is proudly sponsored by:

Evoqua logo, links to Evoqua homepage

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