Opinion: Water leakage

POSTED: 03/17/14 6:32 PM

Dear Editor,

Around the world liters of water are lost every day through broken and leaking pipes. Water usually drains downwards to the water table, which is the top layer of saturation in a rock.

It is then extracted again from the ground or taken from springs, where aquifers – water laden rock layers – meet the surface of the ground. In this case the water is not actually lost from the water cycle, but returns to the water table and then it is drawn out again.

For Country Sint Maarten our drinking water comes mostly from the sea via reverse osmosis, water desalination. The water plants process this in order to make it consumer friendly and fit for drinking.

We have heard in the past that our network of water pipes throughout the country allows up to 40 per cent of the water that is desalinated to go to waste costing millions of guilders annually that me and you pay for every month when we pay our water bills. When water leaks, the daily investment made into making drinking water for the nation goes down the drain when you look at the amount of water leakage.

Water leakage is considered in the water business as non-revenue water which is produced and lost during the water cycle. Much of the water lost is from leaking underground water pipes, service line pipes and connections. According to water production specialists, a considerable amount of water wastage can be prevented with a leak detection program.

Non-revenue water is considered as a global crisis, with upwards of 60 per cent water loss in some water systems. It is estimated that the total worldwide annual cost of non-revenue water is $14 billion, enough to serve 200 million people.

Some Caribbean islands are using helium leak detection innovative technology to detect water leaks.  It has been used effectively throughout the world.  It has been considered accurate and locates leaks in large and small diameter pipes and in pipes of all materials including metallic, plastic, and concrete.

It works in high or low pressurized pipelines regardless of flow and there is no need to drain or depressurize the water system. There is no effect on water quality or public health and is considered cutting edge technology and via this approach, resolves the challenges that water production or management companies face on an annual basis.

Has country Sint Maarten invested wisely in a leak detection program that uncovers wasteful and costly non-revenue water losses? The millions lost annually can be re-invested into our community.

Roddy Heyliger


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