With a view to reducing revenue losses, the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) could be set to turn to helium gas technology in leak detection across its distribution network.

KWA will study a report that will be submitted by Degremont India, a subsidiary of French company Suez Environment that is using the helium-based technology at its projects in Mumbai and Delhi.

The use of helium technology is considered more cost-effective, compared to the smart ball technology that KWA is currently using for leak detection. For checking leaks in one meter of pipeline, the cost of smart ball technology is between $13.46 – $14.96 (Rs 900-Rs 1000), compared to charges of $1.34 – $1.49 (Rs 90-Rs 100) per metre with helium-based technology.

A KWA official explained that another major advantage is that it can even check leakages in small-size pipelines, which was not possible while using smart ball technology.

The KWA unit responsible for leak check and theft of water, Non-Revenue Water Management (NRWM), feels that it would help curb water loss. NRWM was set up in 2012 with a major purpose of cutting water leakages across the KWA network.

In Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram, NRMW records water losses of around 40% because there are many small pipelines which cannot be checked with small ball technology. It also adds huge cost to operations, the official added.

Apart from smart ball technology, KWA also uses GPS-enabled ball, and Sahara, a parachute-shaped device, to identify leaks in pipelines.