Breaks happen

Water line breaks happen and they are costly and inconvenient to all involved. As a community’s water pipeline ages, the risk for breaks increases; every break, whether in a main trunk line or in a branch line, means a waste of precious natural resources, extra cost, inconvenience to utility customers, and the redirection of manpower to perform the repair.

One U.K. Company, Syrinix, has developed technology to help decrease the potential for a large-scale break. Its intelligent pipeline monitoring systems have already provided solutions for companies like Anglian Water, which, according to Case Study records, estimates they have had a “45% reduction in burst mains, 59% reduction in other leak types,” and a “0.7 Ml/d reduction in distribution input” after replacing a faulty valve detected by the TransientMinder system.

While Syrinix Senior V.P. Cliff Jones stated in his email to me that this “may have been an extreme case,” he went on to state, “but certainly we expect to see reductions of 25% in leaks by calming a network down.”

Currently, many localities employ a costly “snapshot” type, in-pipe survey method that allows them to obtain data at that given point in time. If there is a weak area in the pipeline that is not leaking at the time of the survey, then nothing is reported. If that weak area breaks the next day, it goes undetected until it manifests at the surface. By that time, the damage has been done; natural resources have been lost, an emergency repair crew must be deployed, and water end-users are inconvenienced.

What is intelligent monitoring technology?

Continual intelligent pipeline monitoring technology utilizes various types of rugged sensors that are installed on strategic locations along the pipeline. These sensors continually monitor, collect, and analyze water flow and pressure data (PipeMinder) and pressure transient events (TransientMinder), as well as providing high sensitivity leak detection (TrunkMinder).

The system then analyzes that information to help pinpoint the underlying cause of the problems detected. The system uses a cloud-based platform that allows users to access information via computers, tablets, and mobile devices and sends real-time alerts when problems are detected.

What does that mean?

The average homeowner who has read this far might be thinking, “So what?” There are two main benefits to the end user. First, s/he will experience less frequent interruptions to water service. The second is a direct result of the savings experienced by utility companies by preventing expensive and unexpected breaks.

There are several environmental benefits. By preventing pipeline bursts, a company is preventing the loss of water resources. This is extremely important in drought-stricken areas where every drop of water is precious. Additionally, according to Syrinix, the environmental benefit includes reduced “distribution input, chemicals, energy” as well as a “decreased carbon footprint due to smoother pumping activities and a reduction of ‘find and fix’ activities.”

Utility companies also benefit.

There are health and safety benefits to employees as the need to deploy crews for emergency leak repairs is decreased. In addition, there is a financial benefit as the cause of problems can be detected quickly before expensive damage occurs and the life of the pipeline can be extended.

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