Utilities dealing with water loss and aging infrastructure should have a leak detection and condition assessment plan. Echologics, a Mueller Water Products brand, detects underground leaks and assesses the condition of water mains without disrupting service or inserting anything into the pipe system. This is achieved using acoustic sensors attached to existing components such as fire hydrants, valves or directly in contact with a pipe. These sensors listen for the sound that a leak creates and correlate the position of the leak. With condition assessment, a sound wave is introduced in the pipeline and acoustic sensors capture data that is analyzed using proprietary algorithms to assess the integrity of pipelines.
Implementation of an Echologics leak detection or condition assessment program typically starts with a proof-of-concept pilot project to document success and determine potential return on investment. Before laying out a pilot program, it is important for the supplier and customer to agree upon the concept being tested, the capital costs, the relative cost of services, and the criteria on which the performance is going to be evaluated. Evaluation criteria can range from system installation to supporting-software features and the ease of user operation.
The key to successfully maximize savings and minimize water loss depends on early detection of leaks. Acoustic sensors find leaks long before they become detectable by conventional techniques. Early detection reduces the duration of leaks and often means that leaks are repaired before they progress to costly water main breaks.
Real World Examples
EchoShore-M was installed in a water utility in Malaysia to survey more than 1,860 miles of pipeline. Within the first 17 months of deployment, the utility identified and located 252 leaks and saved more than 6.6 million gal per day. The utility expanded its leak detection program to survey an additional 930 miles of transmission mains at an average rate of 25 miles per week, accurately pinpointing 120 leaks and saving an additional
2 million gal per day. This amounted to a total saving of 8.5 million gal per day—enough water to supply an additional 152,000 residents every day.
Additionally, ePulse condition assessment was used to determine if and when certain sections of pipe needed replacement for a U.K. water company that manages 21,700 miles of water distribution network. The company was due to replace 250 miles of pipe, but ePulse showed that 198 meters actually were in good condition and did not need to be replaced. As this section ran under an environmental protection area, complexity of the work and risk of negative environmental impact would have added to the cost. This led to a direct cost savings of more than $150,000 for the utility.