United Water New Jersey (UWNJ) was faced with difficulties in accurately locating leaks on transmission mains and sections of pipe that did not have available appurtenances. The goal was to assess approximately five miles of RCP, PCCP and CIP through leak detection, in a effort to reduce non-revenue water.
United Water New Jersey (UWNJ), a subsidiary of United Water, one of the leading water and wastewater service providers in the United States, provides water services to more than 800,000 people throughout Bergen and Hudson counties and surrounding areas. Its system contains more than 2,100 miles of water main that delivered (distributed) approximately 38.5 billion gallons of water in 2009 alone.
Like many utilities, UWNJ was concerned about being able to identify transmission and distribution main leaks. However, its field crews, as well as the outside contractor, have difficulty accurately detecting and locating leaks in larger diameter water mains and sections of pipe that did not have available appurtenances. In an effort to improve water conservation and reduce non-revenue water, UWNJ began evaluating leak detection services with the ability to accurately isolate leaks on large diameter mains.
UWNJ selected Toronto-based Echologics Engineering Inc., a leading developer of acoustic-based technologies for water loss management, leak detection, and pipe condition assessment, for a Transmission Main Leak Detection pilot survey. The goal was to assess approximately five miles of water mains, composed primarily of Reinforced Concrete Pipe (RCP), pre-stressed cylinder concrete (PCCP), and cast-iron pipe (CIP).
A subsidiary of Mueller Water Products, Inc., a leading North American manufacturer and marketer of products and services that are used in the transmission and distribution of safe, clean drinking water and in water treatment facilities, Echologics works with municipalities across North America, and in Europe, South Africa, Singapore and Australia to isolate “silent” leaks that other technologies fail to find.
With a proprietary sensor and signal conditioning technologies, the Echologics solution works on all pipes irrespective of diameter, geometry, material, etc. Data collection is non-invasive, using standard pipe appurtenances such as hydrants, valves, or direct attachments to the pipe’s outer wall. The system also has the ability to assess the structural condition of transmission mains, distribution pipelines, and force mains, including a unique solution for Asbestos Cement pipe.
For the UWNJ pilot, Echologics used acoustic sensors specifically developed for detecting leaks in large diameter mains, including sections of pipe where standard appurtenances were not available. The Echologics system discovered a major leak on a 42” inch CIP water main, which had gone undetected as the leak was located in a section of pipe that ran beneath a river within the pilot test area.
Because Echologics’ technology substantially reduces both electronic “white” noise as well as ambient background noise often created by running water or traffic, it was able to detect and accurately pinpoint the sub-river leak, which was responsible for losing an estimated 100,000 gallons of treated water per day, without breaking ground or disrupting service. The leak noise was originally identified as an acoustic “point of interest” several thousand feet upstream of the actual leak location.
As a result of Echologics transmission main leak detection service, UWNJ was able to quickly repair the leak avoiding potential failure. Eliminating the leak provided immediate savings due to the significant marginal cost of non-revenue water.
“Until we began working with Echologics, finding leaks on large mains was a difficult and costly process,” said Antonio Vicente, Operations Engineer for United Water. “The company’s advanced system as well as its technicians’ expertise helped us to quickly locate a significant leak. The outcome of this project is a testament to the value of UWNJ’s use of advanced services and technology and demonstrates our commitment to optimizing service for both customers and the environment.