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In a bid to address water losses in the network, TasWater has implemented active leakage management, featuring technology that listens for leaks that may not be visible to the naked eye.

Unaccounted for water has been identified in the Tasmanian Economic Regulator’s State of the Industry Report as an area in need of improvement, and TasWater is pleased to be implementing this technology, along with other initiatives to address this issue.

Customers expect water utilities to take the lead on water conservation and environmental impacts. When we ask them to conserve water each year, we need to do the same. Tackling unaccounted for water is one way TasWater is doing just that.

One initiative which has been rolled out in Tasmania is the Zonescan leak intelligence unit, where around 40 units are being used to listen for leaks within TasWater systems, and then identify them on a map.

Saving 162 megalitres of water

Network Asset Performance Senior Engineer, Pankaj Mistry, said the Zonescan unit consists of one bluetooth enabled communication device, android tablet, and correlating loggers.

“We are using these devices across the state to help us identify leaks, some of which we know about but cannot find,” Mr Mistry said.

Since the roll out of the Zonescans in November last year, the number of leaks that have been detected and fixed has led to saving approximately 162 megalitres of water which would have otherwise been lost.

Not all water losses are as a result of leaks, but saving millions of litres of water through leak detection technology is an important step to address the issue.

Like other utilities, leaks come to the attention of TasWater through customers calling and reporting them to the customer service centre, and staff out in the field who come across them. These are known as reported leaks.

This technology gives us a more proactive approach to leak detection, not just identifying and resolving reported leaks.

“The process of active leakage control involves a team of staff sweeping an area using sound techniques to localise a leak, which is possible through technology like the Zonescans,” Mr Mistry said.

“Leak Noise Correlators are then operated on site, using specialist sounding software and technology that pinpoints the leak.

“Once we know the exact location, we can then deploy our staff to fix it.

“We usually have a team focus on an area for two to three days to ensure that zone is thoroughly covered, then they move to another zone or other areas of the network previously known for leaks.”

Pinpointing leaks faster and more accurately

To identify leaks, the Zonescan leak intelligence units need loggers either side of a specific area to hear the same noise so they can indicate if there is any possibility of a leak being present at that spot.

“The noise logger function in the Zonescan individually assesses the probability of a leak being present, based on the noise level,” Mr Mistry said.

Locations of the possible leaks can be viewed on the cloud based ‘Zonescan.net’ analysis system.

“With the Zonescan producing a correlation result within one metre of the leak, the average on-site pinpointing time is thirty minutes,” Mr Mistry said.

“In comparison, pinpointing leaks with standard noise loggers that do not correlate, takes an average of two hours and the operators often return at night to perform a correlation.

“When you add the travel time, there is a massive saving and reduction in manpower costs using a correlating logger like the Zonescan units.”

Increasing coverage

Another benefit to using leak detection technology is that it helps to conserve water by identifying leaks earlier.

“For example, using this technology we identified a leak in Claremont, a town north of Hobart, which was running at one litre per second.

“The saving from that one leak is about 86 cubic metres of water per day, which is a significant saving now that it’s been fixed.

“Zonescan units can also be easily moved around the network and require minimal staff to operate,” Mr Mistry said.

TasWater staff are currently targeting areas that have a higher number of leaks and bursts, before the initiative is rolled out more broadly.

“We intend to invest in more equipment and people to increase our coverage across the state, so we can continue to combat leaks within our networks.”

The staff who use the Zonescans are part of a dedicated team at TasWater who focus on our pipes, pump stations and other infrastructure to ensure they are working efficiently and effectively.

A holistic approach to improve reliability

The team also uses other equipment, not just the Zonescans, to identify leaks.

“In my role, I focus on all things non-revenue water state-wide, aiming to reduce any water loss in the network through bursts and leaks,” Mr Mistry said.

Non-revenue water is water which is treated but lost before it gets to the customer.

“Currently, I’m working on detecting leaks in the Clarence region, north of Hobart. We’re installing bulk water meters to measure the water flow going into a certain area.

“The data from the meters allows us to see whether any water is leaking in that section of pipe, so that a Zonescan can be deployed to find the leak’s exact location,”Mr Mistry said.

Reducing leaks in our network leads to an improved service and reliability for our customers. These programs are just one way we are helping to improve reliability and water surety into the future for all users of our systems.

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