Smart water: Leak detection and non-revenue water

As water utilities struggle with aging infrastructure, they need smarter solutions to detect leaks, reduce non-revenue water, and make more informed decisions. Learn how Singapore and Colorado use Xylem’s smart water technologies to conserve water and save time on condition assessments.

Water managers are dealing with acute infrastructure challenges, including pipe leaks, main breaks and inefficient asset management. Non-revenue water in particular is a significant problem. According to a Global Water Intelligence study in 2017, 24 percent of the countries analyzed had non-revenue water rates in excess of 40 percent.

By using intelligent systems and smart water technologies, however, water managers can more effectively address these challenges. Intelligent solutions, which include equipment, smart networks and advanced analytics, can help reduce water loss and unnecessary repairs so that water managers can afford investments in water infrastructure.

Xylem’s smart water technologies for leak detection and assessment

Xylem has expanded its portfolio of intelligent solutions in order to address the water industry’s biggest problems. Xylem’s Pure Technologies brand provides smart solutions for pipeline condition assessment, inline leak detection and monitoring. Visenti, acquired by Xylem in 2016, offers software and hardware solutions for smart water analytics, leak detection and leak prevention.

Pure Technologies’ SmartBall, for example, is a free-flowing leak detection platform that operates while the pipeline remains in service. It can complete long inspections in a single deployment. SmartBall is equipped with an acoustic sensor that identifies acoustic anomalies associated with leaks and air pockets. Acoustic signatures are analyzed to determine if they are leaks, air pockets, or external noise.

Another condition assessment tool is Pure’s PipeDiver platform. It is a versatile, free-swimming tool that uses flow to move through a pipeline. It has specialized electromagnetic sensors to identify and locate prestressing wire wraps, which are the main structural components of PCP and PCCP, and the primary indicators that a pipe will fail.

Visenti’s solutions include three main products: View, LeakView and SurgeView. View is Visenti’s main analytics platform that enables utilities to collect and analyze all of their data in one place, while LeakView and SurgeView include hardware that can track non-revenue water and detect and localize real-time pipe failure.

Case: Metropolitana Milanese, Italy

Utility finds and fixes previously undetected leaks

Challenge: Metropolitana Milanese manages the integrated water services for the City of Milan, which has more than 2,295 kilometers (1,430 miles) of pipeline. The utility had identified a critical transmission main that was in need of inspection. The water main is made of 1200 mm steel and situated in the heart of Milan. Although the main was installed in 1982 and is not particularly old, its importance to the network made it a priority for assessment.

Solution and results: Metropolitana Milanese assessed a 9-kilometer (5.5-mile) section of the main using the SmartBall leak detection tool. This technology was chosen to allow the transmission main to remain in operation during the inspection, a critical requirement. The SmartBall inspection identified 23 large leaks. Because the overall flow of the main is high, the leakage was undetectable with traditional metering equipment.

Case: Singapore Public Utilities Board

Utility reduces non-revenue water to 5% of all water produced

Challenge: Singapore is one of the most water-stressed cities in the world, with limited land to collect and store rainwater. Water is currently supplied from four sources: local catchment, imported water, purified reclaimed water, and desalinated water. Given its limited water, water conservation and reducing water loss is a top priority for the city’s water managers.

Solution and results: More than 300 of Visenti’s sensors were installed in Singapore’s potable water supply pipelines to detect water leaks. The solution, including advanced analytics, enables water managers to detect leaks and bursts in real time, predict demand, and simulate operations. Using this system, Singapore was able to reduce its non-revenue water to just five percent of all water produced, one of the lowest rates in the world.

Case: Homestake Water Project, Colorado

Pipeline inspection time cut from five months to a single day

Challenge: The Homestake Water Project is a joint venture between Colorado Springs and the City of Aurora to collect and transport water from the mountains to the communities that serve almost one million people. Part of the project includes a 44-mile pipeline that has suffered catastrophic failures in the past. Starting in 2006, a condition assessment of different sections of the pipeline took five months staggered over a five-year period.

Solution and results: When it was time to re-inspect the pipeline, the Homestake Water Project decided to use the PipeDiver platform. After careful planning, the PipeDiver completed its electromagnet inspection of the entire 44 miles of pipeline in a single day. The platform located and quantified the amount of prestressing wire wraps and identified individual pipe sections with distress growth. This enabled project managers to make better decisions about repairs and replacements.

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