Leak Detection Technologies Evolution. What’s Next?
Like in other areas, technologies in the water supply sector have advanced significantly in the past century, with rapid technological development in the last few decades. This is true, of course, for almost any segment in the water distribution industry. In this post we will focus on the advances in leak location technologies and techniques, but most importantly, on the future developments yet to come.
A bit of history
The need for leak detection tools was realized early in the 19th century, when manual sounding based on wooden listening sticks was first in use. This was followed by more advanced technologies as described by the IWA Water Loss Group in this leakage detection technology timeline, with a technological boost in the 2000s which included the penetration of acoustic loggers, digital correlators and advanced ground microphones. There is no doubt that these developments made leak location efforts more effective and still help reducing water loss rates.
The power of IT
But the real breakthrough is still ahead. Considering the current limited use of information technology (IT) in this field, and its possible power in detecting and locating leaks remotely, this is naturally the next stage in the evolution of leak detection. ”Smart technologies” that allow better monitoring and control of water networks emerged a few years ago. A growing number of water network operators see the value in continuous monitoring of multiple physical parameters, with the purpose of reducing water loss, achieving the “Economical Level of Leakage”.
IT is the next link in the chain
Technological improvements in correlators made them lighter and easier for use but most importantly, shortened the time of leak location. IT solutions have the ability to reduce localizing times even more. Using the power of large databases, smart algorithms and advanced statistical methods, IT solutions can make personnel’s work more focused and leak detection and location practices more efficient. By detecting leaks early, and providing their approximate locations based on data analysis (without going to the field), IT technologies make field location efforts more beneficial. Coupled with none or limited physical interference (many data analytics solution don’t require network changes), it is clear that smart IT technologies will become an integral component of modern water networks in the 21st century. The trend of adopting these technologies has already started and is expected to become more significant in the following years.
With an increasing number of leading water utilities that take advantage of IT solutions in their leak detection practices, and value the benefits of this new trend (allowing them to save water, time, money and energy), there is no doubt that this is the next stage in the evolution of leak detection and location technologies.