Water leak in street

Leaks and bursts: find, fix and prevent them

July 26, 2018

If you’re concerned about leaks in your water supply network – whether they’re steady, or sudden bursts – they can be addressed. Reducing leaks and non-revenue water (NRW) means happier customers and regulators, savings on wasted water, and fewer fines.

You need to know:

  • where the leaks are
  • how bad they are, and their cause
  • how to manage the repair, with the minimum disruption to the community
  • how to avoid leaks in the future

Is it normal?

Water companies already have a fairly good idea of the water demand they expect from their service area, depending on factors like the weather, time of day, day of the week and so on, from their years of experience. Comparing this institutional knowledge with the live telemetry and SCADA data from pumps, valves and flow meters can help operators find large anomalies in the system – indicating where to investigate more closely.

A program like Info360 from Innovyze takes all the hard work out of making these comparisons. It shows the relevant usage patterns and runs the usual mass balance calculation (water in, minus water out, minus any change in storage). Info360 can even bring in customer usage/billing data as another data stream that could reveal anomalies, boosting your chance of pinpointing the issue.

DemandWatch (part of IWLive Pro Suite) works in a similar way, monitoring flows in district metered areas (DMAs). It works out statistical thresholds, and generates alerts if they’re exceeded.

You can also compare the live data with your hydraulic model and look for any deviation from simulated values. For models built in InfoWorks WS Pro, there’s a Leakage Locator Tool built in. It runs multiple simulations based on possible leak locations, predicts pressures across the relevant part of the network, and compares the results with telemetry readings from pressure loggers. This generates a similarity score that indicates the leak location. The tool can predict leaks to within 20m accuracy, enabling crews to find them fast.

Give us a clue

Satellite imagery can highlight wet ground. The technology, which has been available commercially for a few years, captures images and analyzes them for the spectral signature of water, detecting saturated ground up to 3-4 meters below the surface.

It can take just a few minutes to load the data into Innovyze’s InfoAsset Manager software, then you can see likely leakage areas superimposed automatically on your map of your pipes, pumps, manholes and other assets. InfoAsset Manager will help you quickly identify ground that’s suspiciously wet, regardless of whether the water is fresh or waste.

Sounding the alarm

If there’s a major burst, you’ll be getting alarms going off – for example if a reservoir level has dropped rapidly. You’ll get a feel for the immediate consequences and their timing by running your hydraulic model. A live modeling program such as IWLive Pro will give you the best support here. It updates continually based on what’s actually happening, refining its predictions as things unfold and live data comes in.

Live modeling also has a health and safety aspect. Its predictions can help you manage the risks for everyone involved in an emergency.

The best repair

Once you have an idea of the location of a leak, you can dispatch maintenance crews or contractors to inspect the site, determine its cause and severity, and estimate the fix time and cost. You need to know:

  • What are the best repair options?
  • If you need to isolate the failure, who will be affected and what will the impact be?
  • Can you re-route supplies so that the fewest possible customers are cut off?
  • How should you manage customers’ expectations?
  • During the works, can you keep pressures right – neither too high nor too low?

Modeling software helps here. IWLive Pro, for example, can simulate the new conditions and forecast the consequences. It can simulate any mitigating actions you might take, helping you test and select the best ones.

Don’t do it again

Proactive maintenance can reduce the risk of future leaks, but where do you start with maintenance? It’s all about knowing your assets – your pipes, pumps, manholes and so on: where they are, their condition and the risks they pose. A good asset management plan (AMP) helps water companies prioritize maintenance according to their resources, budgets, and strategy. Programs like InfoAsset Manager and InfoAsset Planner enable you to make defensible decisions about your network as a whole as well as for individual assets, right down to the ball bearings.

Making it simple

At Innovyze we can help you with nearly any aspect of water, from catchment, through supply and quality, to wastewater collection. Our software is designed to empower you to make the right decisions through your data, whether you’re doing planning, design, modeling, operations, or maintenance. We offer several leak detection tools to suit differing requirements. Get in touch to find out more, or to arrange a demo tailored to your needs.