40 million litres of drinking water gone: The municipality puts this into context

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In Tägerig precious water is lost en route to the tap – but other municipalities are also familiar with this problem.

Drinking water generally has to travel several kilometres before it flows from the tap in our home. It is practically unavoidable that water is lost on these long routes through underground pipes.

But the figures that the SRF-Regionaljournal made public on Thursday relating to the municipality of Tägerig raise questions. 127 million litres of water left the reservoir last year, but only 87 million litres actually arrived to the consumers. The remaining 40 million litres, one third of the original total amount, completely disappeared. 13 million litres more than in the previous year.

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Local councillor Christian Vogel told SRF: "40 million litres get lost – this is naturally very annoying for a water supply company. He has no explanation for the water loss, but seemed perplexed. "Our water network is in very good condition. This is somewhat irritating. Where is the water then going?" He rules out a big pipe leak, water theft as well.

Municipality recalculates

One day and a few headlines in the media later the municipality attempts to calm the waves and put the figures into context. "We can give the all-clear to some extent" said municipal secretary Rolf Meier to AZ. The municipality now assumes the actual loss is lower than expected. Because in the present case two figures were compared which were collected over different time periods and thus cannot be compared one-to-one.

The municipality also expects that water was consumed in the past year that was not recorded in the measurement. Meier is not able to say at this point how much lower the water loss in Tägerig actually is. He mentions ongoing clarifications. The municipality will provide information as soon as the results are available.

Also in other municipalities water is lost en route to the households. Throughout Switzerland the talk is of 120 billion litres per year. And according to the Swiss Gas and Water Industry Association, the average water loss of a water supply company is 12 to 15 percent. Wohlen was slightly over these figures last year with 17 percent. "The aim is to get it under 15 percent", says Giovanni Romeo, Managing Director of IBW Technik AG. They are well on the way because a year earlier Wohlen had considerably worse values. At that time 24 percent of the water was lost on the around 100 kilometre long pipeline network.

The Wohlen repair campaign

This big loss prompted IBW to look more intensively than ever before for water leaks. And they found water leaks. In 2018 the company repaired 39 points where water was previously able to escape. This is ten more repairs than the previous year. IBW wants to follow up on that, whereby Romeo emphasises: "The search for water leaks can be compared to searching for a needle in a haystack.

Together with vast experience, a lot of luck is also needed." In order to avoid leaving the discovery of leaks to chance, 180 special microphones are installed throughout the pipe system. If the measured volume increases suddenly, a leak is generally responsible, to which it is often age-related. "It is not unusual that a pipe over 100 years old is used", says Romeo. Also in Villmergen the loss could be reduced significantly. In 2010 it was still 18 percent, last year this figure was only 7 percent.

On the approximately 50 kilometre long network of the Muri water supply around 15 to 20 percent of the drinking water is lost. The Muri water supply does not repair every leak, says President Thomas Suter. "In the case of a small leak the loss of water is cheaper than a possible repair", he adds. The repair always costs several thousand francs. However, in Wohlen every leak is repaired, as Romeo from IBW stated. From a business point of view, this is probably wrong, but: "Water has a very sentimental value for us." (aargauerzeitung.ch)

Watson, 40 million litres of drinking water gone: The municipality puts this into context: https://www.watson.ch/!596757451?utm_source=mail&utm_medium=social-user&utm_campaign=watson-app-ios, retrieved on 28.06.2019.

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