April 17, 2008, Updated September 13, 2012

When water pressure builds in supply pipes, it stresses the system, causing leaks at pipe joints.With clean water in short supply in many parts of the world and aging water infrastructure in many large cities proving insufficient to meet demands, governments around the world are seeking ways to conserve water.

According to Shlomo Avitbul of Israeli startup Stream Control, it turns out that pipe leakage – due to excessive water pressure – is a big culprit in water waste.

To solve the problem, the Migdal Ha’emek company has produced a device called the Aquaguard Smart Pressure Reduction Controller, designed to ensure proper flow of water through municipal pipes, thus preventing leaks – and saving money for everybody.

Water moves through the underground supply pipes, available for use instantly when people turn on the tap. So what does the water do when it doesn’t get used? It just sits there – and gets “pushed” from behind as more water from the reservoir seeks to move forward through the system. This increases the water pressure, stressing the pipes – and encouraging leaks at the pipe joints and at other weak “stress points”.

When water flows through to homes, such as in the morning and evening when people are taking showers or doing the laundry, there isn’t too much leakage because the pressure is low,” Avitbul tells ISRAEL21c. “But overnight, or during the midday hours when people are out, pressure is much higher.”

Up to 40 percent of water coming from the reservoir can be lost to leakage in this way, Avitbul says.

“According to scientific studies, Mexico City’s supply system loss is enough to meet the needs of a city the size of Rome,” he says.

The situation is the same all over the world. “According to our research, the average water loss due to leakage in the UK is 27%, 30% in Italy, 35% in Ireland, and 40% in Slovenia,” says Avitbul. “A quarter of all the water in London gets lost in this way.”

That amounts to big money – as much as a million dollars annually in many cities, besides being an environmental tragedy.

It’s a worldwide problem, Avitbul says, and one that can be greatly reduced by application of Stream Control’s Aquaguard.

While most cities require residents to equip their homes with water pressure reducing valves to avoid water “explosions” in the home, Aquaguard ensures that there is less pressure on the water entering the home system, regulating the pressure through the device equipped with sophisticated computer software.

“Our product is connected to the municipal water system at a neighborhood pipe ‘branch,’ regulating the pressure flow into that branch pipe which serves the neighborhood residents,” Avitbul says. “Depending on household demand for water flow, Aquaguard will regulate the pressure, matching pressure with demand. In places where we have deployed it, Aquaguard has reduced leakage by at least 30%.”

A single Aquaguard unit, controlling a single neighborhood, is reasonably priced (about $10,000), and will pay for itself within six months, Avitbul says.

After that, the water that gets saved translates to more money in the pockets of city administrators – and hopefully taxpayers.

“We just finished a major project in Jerusalem’s old city, where our installations reduced leakage by 35%,” Avitbul says, adding that the product is set to be deployed in a number of other cities in Israel in the coming months. The company is also working on several deals in Europe – specifically Spain, Germany, and Italy.

Stream Control is a graduate of the Yozmot HaEmek technological incubator in Migdal Ha’emek, which specializes in health and environmental projects – and Stream Control fits the bill, using high-tech algorithms to save not just money, but the environment.

“For a small investment, cities can save a great deal of money – and a great deal of water,” says Avitbul, “something that works out for everyone.”


Slashdot It!

More on Innovation

Fighting for Israel's truth

We cover what makes life in Israel so special — it's people. A non-profit organization, ISRAEL21c's team of journalists are committed to telling stories that humanize Israelis and show their positive impact on our world. You can bring these stories to life by making a donation of $6/month. 

Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director