American Water, the largest water services provider in North America, announced it has funding for two select research projects. The projects, which total $1.3 million, are being funded in part by the American Water Works Association Research Foundation.
For the first project, American Water will work with HDR Engineers, Clancy Environmental Consultants, Ecole Polytechnique and Dalhousie University to evaluate bacterial management plans. The project team will develop a guidance manual to help utilities track and control coliform bacteria in water distribution systems. Nationwide, exceeding the Total Coliform bacterial standard is the most common drinking water violation experienced by public water systems, affecting over 11 million people.
“American Water has an excellent record of Total Coliform compliance, in part due to extensive research on the topic in the 1980s and 1990s,” notes Dr. Mark LeChevallier, director of research and environmental excellence at American Water. The project began in late-January 2006 and is scheduled for completion in two and a half years.
The second project, which will span the next two years, will elevate recently introduced leak detection technology to the next level. Working with the National Research Council of Canada, Flow Metrix and Hexagram, American Water researchers will use automatic meter reading systems to monitor and analyze acoustic vibrations in pipes, predicting if and when the pipes will burst. Project Manager David Hughes, an infrastructure engineer at American Water, explains, “If we can confirm that leaking water pipes go through several stages of progressive failure, then water utilities can proactively manage water main failures and schedule repairs within the distribution network.”
Leaks are a problem plaguing public water systems nationwide. The ability to manage leaks and predict when breaks might occur is instrumental to the preservation of water utility infrastructure.