ABB technology helps ease Bangkok’s water crisis

Utilizing digital technology to optimize water management in the capital city of Thailand

Earlier this year, Thai authorities were trucking drinking water to parts of Bangkok and urging residents to shower less. Seemingly ironic for a city that lies on the Gulf of Thailand and is split by the Chao Phraya river as well as a network of canals. Hit by the worst drought in almost 40 years, the water levels at the reservoirs and dams are at record lows. In addition, due to the depleted Chao Phraya river, sea water is pushing up the river, and as a result the capital's tap water was becoming saline.

Efficiently maintaining a reliable water supply is a crucial task for the city with over 11 million people that consumes more than 5 million cubic meters of water a day – enough to fill 2,300 Olympic-sized pools. The drought is aggravating the water leakage issue that has been troubling Bangkok’s water distribution for years: due to leakages in the pipes throughout the distribution system more than 25 percent of the water is lost during transmission from the treatment plant to the households.

A significant first step to meet this challenge of providing enough clean water is to effectively manage water leakage in the area. The Metropolitan Waterworks Authority (MWA), which produces and supplies drinking water in the Bangkok Metropolitan area, is relying on ABB digital technology to lower the disastrously high 25 percent level of water loss they’ve experienced.

To monitor and lower the water leakage problem, MWA is using more than 400 ABB digital flowmeters throughout Bangkok, in conjunction with ABB pressure transmitters, to keep track of where water is being used and where it’s being lost. In such a densely populated urban environment some of these flowmeters are either buried underground or submerged in water.

“To reduce water loss, the ABB flowmeter is one of the significant tools we use to provide high-resolution data that facilitates leakage detection and water network analysis in the Bangkok Metropolitan area,” explains Supichete Tavorntaveevong, Director of the Water Loss Management department at MWA.

The reliable flow measurement and remote monitoring capabilities of the ABB flowmeters provide critical information as GSM-SMS radio technology enables accurate, early warnings on leaks to be sent to the MWA central control room. Immediate access to a host of critical data eliminates the time, cost and potential errors traditionally associated with manual collection of flowmeter information.

The digital system enables remote status monitoring, sending key alerts and warnings on leakages so authorities are able to resolve problems faster, reducing the amount of water lost.

As Supalert Tarmallpark, Managing Director, Thai Meters Co, channel partner for ABB explains, “Each product can send signals digitally to the control rooms, to the network, so when we set certain thresholds, these products will send signals, alarms, digitally through the network, to the personnel that's controlling, or has the management position, to deal with whatever problems that occurred."

MWA aims to further reduce water losses to 19 percent by 2021.

ABB is well positioned to offer enhanced support for the area across the entire water management chain. For example, ABB motors and variable speed drives installed at more than a dozen pumping stations across the city contribute significantly to saving energy and distributing water reliably. ABB medium-voltage switchgears ensure reliable power supply to the pumping systems.

As climate change continues to impact water supplies, coastal cities around the world are exploring how innovative ABB technology can make sure the world’s most precious commodity continues to flow.

To learn more about how ABB creates solutions for sustainable water management visit our UN World Water Day page. 

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