Leaks, big and small, waste water. For ratepayers, they can drive up the cost of water bills and in large pipelines, they can erupt into a major disaster.
Most of the Las Vegas Valley Water District’s (LVVWD) known water losses are due to failed small diameter service lines.To find leaks on small diameter service lines, the District employs leak detection devices that periodically listen for sounds or vibrations that maybe caused by water seeping from the system. To find leaks on large pipelines, the district manually surveys critical pipelines using sophisticated leak correlation equipment. But now, newer more advanced LTE enabled acoustical sounding technology is enabling the District to permanently monitor for leaks on one of the community’s older and most in demand water lines located in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip. Installed in 1960’s, the 30-inch water main supplies up to 7.5 million gallons of water per day to resorts, casinos and attractions.
Las Vegas Valley Water District initially conducted some inspections of the pipe using a different technology and determined that several sections of the pipe were becoming degraded. They had to determine whether to replace the pipe before it really fails, or continue to wait until it fails and then replace it. This challenge is not just specific to Las Vegas Valley Water District – it is faced by water system operators each and every day.
LVVWD deployed Mueller Water Products’ EchoShore®-TX permanent leak detection platform. The smart technology enabled LVVWD to better understand and manage the 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 AT&T wireless connectivity and visual end-user dashboards to create a cost-effective monitoring solution. In Las Vegas, 13 permanent acoustic sensors are monitoring 3 miles of the aging pipeline installed under Las Vegas Boulevard, from Sunset to Flamingo Roads.
The technology allowed the LVVWD to think outside the box and monitor the pipe on a continuous basis to detect small leaks before they become larger, and then be able to schedule an act and make repairs as needed. In short, it allows LVVWD to extend the life of pipes significantly. The solution can now be installed permanently instead just a temporary solution in order to be continually proactive to find leaks.
Once activated, the acoustic sensors collect data about the pipeline section 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 customised 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.
The NIST water sustainability project incorporates AT&T wireless connectivity to collect, transmit and manage data from the EchoShore®-TX monitoring nodes. AT&T cellular wireless connectivity was selected as it’s secure, readily available and low cost for connecting Industrial Internet of Things like the sensor used in the EchoShore-TX system. AT&T is also helping Cities mobilise their worlds with state-of the-art communications for Industrial Internet of Things solutions like, smart metering, LED lighting, fleet management, renewable, energy and prepay energy.
IBM provides smart water management solutions using existing and new sources of data in combination with analytical, visualization and reporting tools to create an analytics-based platform called a Water Management Center. Using aggregated water/wastewater data in combination with analytical tools, and utility operating experience, the Water Management Center stimulates the creation of new insights that can improve operational efficiencies, enabling utilities to become proactive, predictive and prescriptive.
The combination of IBM’s Water Management Center and Mueller Water Products’ Echoshore-TX leak detection technology demonstrates how the combination of Big Data analytics and water industry innovation can facilitate and improve city response to avoid water loss in a piping network.
Aging water infrastructure challenges will continue to escalate as buried pipelines throughout the nation near the end of their useful life, resulting in water loss, inefficient use of energy and property damage. Simply replacing or allowing these assets to run to failure is cost-prohibitive and not a sustainable infrastructure management approach. New pipeline monitoring technology combined with wireless communications and data visualisation as demonstrated in the NIST Global City Teams Challenge are enabling utilities to cost-effectively gather more data to make more informed decisions that extend asset life and reduce operating risks.
The technology saves the Valley Water by detecting those leaks and being able to fix them before they go on for potentially years unnoticed. It puts LVVWD on the cutting edge of leak detection technology. It furthers their program for large diameter leak detection. Ultimately, once LVVWD has completed the solution on the Strip permanently, it can expand the program to others of their distribution system.
The author is Mobeen Khan (above), AVP, AT&T Industrial IoT Solutions