Unitywater is aiming for a 100 per cent leak free water network by placing sensors in water pipes and using acoustics to monitor flow.

When the new sensors pick up unusual pressure variations, which can be signs of leaks, they send an instant alert to network operators.

Two acoustic monitoring sensors are being trialled simultaneously. Israeli leak detection technology firm, Aquarius Spectrum, is supplying its AQS-SYS sensors, while Swiss intelligent water technologies company, Gutermann, is supplying its HISCAN sensors.

“Water leaks of any size are always regrettable,” Unitywater Executive Manager Customer Delivery, Rob Dowling, said.

“They cause wasteful and costly water loss, they damage infrastructure and they cause concern and disruption for our customers who are often without water while we conduct repairs.

“These technologies address these issues by helping us to detect leaks of varying sizes before they escalate to major pipe bursts and asset failure.”

Mr Dowling believes that the key benefit of these sensors is their fast notification.

“They give us an instant alert to a pressure change, which then triggers a faster response from us on the ground and therefore a much swifter fix,” Mr Dowling said.

“To date, we have not been able to monitor small changes in pressure or flow in our trunk mains, which has made it difficult to take corrective action before a break occurs.”

Unitywater is presently alerted to leaks by a monitoring system called TaKaDu, feedback from the public or investigations on the ground by field crews.

TaKaDu identifies leaks in the reticulation network, while members of the public are only able to alert Unitywater to leaks that are visible at the surface.

This new technology will detect more subtle changes to water flow and pressure in Unitywater’s larger, trunk water mains.

Data gathered by the sensors over time also predict future failure points and track network changes, giving Unitywater a more complete picture of its water network than ever before.

Unitywater will trial these technologies at two of its trunk mains on the Sunshine Coast.

Lauren ‘LJ’ Butler is the Assistant Editor of Utility magazine and has been part of the team at Monkey Media since 2018.

After completing a Bachelor of Media, Communications and Professional Writing at the University of Wollongong in 2014, and prior to writing about the utility sector, LJ worked as a Journalist and Sub Editor across the horticulture, hardware, power equipment, construction and accommodation industries with publishers such as Glenvale Publications, Multimedia Publishing and Bean Media Group.

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