Aging Water Infrastructure
Throughout the world, water districts and utilities face a number of critical challenges including aging pipeline infrastructure, drought, funding shortages and an aging workforce. These challenges are forcing water utilities to adopt strategies that will help them quickly evaluate and better manage the future operation of their systems.
For many utilities, a significant amount of buried water pipeline assets where installed in the 1950s and are now reaching the end of their useful service life. Water main breaks are the first visible impacts of aging water infrastructure, wreaking havoc on municipalities as pipes reach the end of their service lives. Small leaks are often referred to as ”ticking time bombs” that go undetected for months, before revealing themselves as puddles, pressure drops, non-revenue water or devastating ruptures that flood streets and create property damage.
Smart Cities are Adopting the "Internet of Things" for Water Infrastructure Management
Hailed as “the first installation of its kind in the country” by the Nevada Center for Excellence, EchoShore®-TX monitoring technology is a nexus of cutting-edge technology concepts incorporating sensor-based data gathering and next-generation "Internet of Things" (IoT) networking. A convergence of environmental monitoring, system automation, and infrastructure management, the EchoShore-TX platform harnesses IoT networking of “smart” sensors and devices using advanced Internet-connected wireless technologies for remote monitoring and management of a large-scale leak detection systems.
Sensors placed in water distribution and fire protection infrastructure collect data about pressure, temperature, water quality and leaks, then wirelessly transmit that data to a dashboard monitored by the Utility. Powered by wireless broadband networks, this technology interconnects utilities and empowers them with real time monitoring and two-way communications. By investing in these technologies, utilities can proactively locate and resolve leaks before they become catastrophes.
Las Vegas Valley Water District (LVVWD) deployed the EchoShore-TX permanent leak detection platform. The smart technology enabled LVVWD to better understand and manage a critical water supply pipeline and to reduce any potential water loss due to leakage. The monitoring platform combines proven acoustic leak detection technology with leading-edge wireless connectivity and visual end-user dashboards to create a cost-effective monitoring solution. In Las Vegas, 13 permanent acoustic sensors are monitoring 4 miles of the aging pipeline installed under Las Vegas Boulevard, from Sunset to Flamingo Roads.
“When this technology came along, it allowed us to think outside the box and say, really, the pipes don’t fail catastrophically all of a sudden. They fail by having a very small leak which developed to a larger leak which eventually develops into a sinkhole. So by having this technology we’re allowed to monitor the pipe on a continuous basis to detect those small leaks before they get to be big leaks, and then be able to schedule an act and make repairs as needed. This allows us to extend the life of our pipes significantly by doing this.” noted Charles Scott, LVVWD Engineering Project Manager.
Once activated, the acoustic sensors collect data about the pipeline which is being monitored. At assigned times, the information is uploaded to a secure server where advanced algorithms interpret the data, search for leak signals and generate reports. A customized information interface is created for the utility which can be integrated into existing client software programs. In the event of a leak, notification alerts can be sent to a mobile device. This will allow LVVWD to continue their leak detection program, but with faster and more accurate information on where their leaks are.
Partnering with IBM and AT&T, Echologics and the EchoShore-TX deployment in Las Vegas are part of the Global City Teams Challenge, a program sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technologies that fosters and showcases new technologies to create “smart cities” using IoT connectivity and networking technologies. The Las Vegas deployment incorporates AT&T wireless connectivity to collect, transmit and manage data from the EchoShore-TX monitoring nodes, and IBM-developed software providing an analytics-based water management system with analytical, visualization and reporting capabilities.