Analyzing the Origins of Inflow & Infiltration

Analyzing the Origins of Inflow & Infiltration

One of the features of the Smartvatten for Water Utilities service is our Inflow & Infiltration module, developed to analyze and understand the origins of external water coming into the system. This information can be used to target further inspections to the most problematic areas, helping water utilities prioritize their maintenance and build a resilient network.

When the water level in the sewers regularly exceeds capacity, the first solution is often to increase the network capacity. The worst-case scenario can also require increasing the capacity of the wastewater treatment plant, which would cost hundreds of millions of euros. If there is a constant high inflow, the wastewater treatment plant is continuously working at a high capacity, which requires more energy and other resources. This shows how important it is to understand where all that external water is coming from.

Understanding Excess Water

Excess water might end up in the network from lakes, the sea or groundwater bodies through cracked pipes or faulty connections. Other possible entering sources are faulty manhole covers or private drainage connections during heavy rain events. This inflow and infiltration causes problems for water utilities around the world. It dilutes wastewater, making the treatment processes more complicated. With climate change, population growth, and aging infrastructure, related problems are likely to only increase in the future. The resilience of water infrastructure is best protected by locating and fixing any vulnerable parts of the network, and the first step is to begin the systematic collection of network measurements.

A rough estimate of inflow and infiltration can usually be calculated by comparing the amount of sold water to the amount of treated wastewater. But that doesn’t help with locating the network’s vulnerable parts. Carefully analyzing network measurements is necessary to find more detailed answers. Data analytics is able to take other factors into account, like weather information, electricity consumption, and even sea levels. When months and year’s worth of data are analyzed, long-term trends become visible.

In 2021, the Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority (HSY) noticed that the water flow of several pumping stations correlated with sea level changes. A quick assessment proved that seawater was flowing into the pumping stations at specific times. The following months, the pumping stations were fixed, and the wastewater flow returned to normal. The treatment plant now also experienced less problems, not having to deal with high levels of saltwater anymore.

Analyzing the Origins

Our system categorizes the inflow and infiltration into their types of origin by comparing different data sources. The amount of water sold in the area and how much is actually being pumped are all taken into account, as well as the relevant weather data. We can then break down the wastewater stream into its individual discharge components and determine which part is due to, for example, weather or groundwater infiltration. Based on all the information gathered from the network, the network condition and refurbishment needs can be determined.

Renovation projects are often prioritized based on the age of the pipes, but data analysis provides ways to locate parts of the network that aren’t necessarily the oldest but are still worth fixing first. Prioritizing in this manner builds the network’s resilience and saves money. Machine learning can help create a model using past measurements and other data sources, resulting in reliable information about the network’s performance. The network measurements collected by water utilities are a significant data asset that enables knowledge-based decisions. The results of analyses can not only be used for the planning of inspections and renovations, but also to evaluate the effectiveness of past renovations and reparations through the examination of how the distribution of flow components has changed and whether the planned effect could be achieved.

Smartvatten for Water Utilities

Working with Smartvatten for Water Utilities means using a solution that is both smart and doesn’t require any additional hardware, complicated installations, or expensive upfront investments. We utilize every existing data source on your network and are up and running in no-time. We know that when it comes to water networks, everything can’t be fixed at once. That’s why we focus on showing you which parts require your attention the most, so you can allocate your limited resources accordingly.

Interested to learn more about your inflow and infiltration and our service? Contact us at!