Hunter Water will use an internet of things (IoT) network to monitor and protect mains infrastructure bringing water to 600,000 residents and businesses.
The state-owned company will trial 30 real-time pressure sensors and five water flow meters across 25km of mains pipes, with instant alerts sent when pressure changes, which may indicate a leak.
Information will be transmitted across a low-powered, long-range wide area network (LoRaWAN), that was installed on Hunter Water's radio towers in Lake Macquarie by the National Narrowband Network (NNNCo).
An NNNCo spokesperson told iTnews could later be extended into the Lake Macquarie’s public LoRaWAN in the future, which the city launched with the company mid-last year, following in the footsteps of the neighbouring City of Newcastle.
Aside from responding to leaks faster - saving water and preventing damage to surrounding materials - Hunter Water’s chief information and technology officer Richard Harris said the trial may also enable predictive maintenance.
“These devices, combined with the use of advanced analytics, will give us greater visibility into how the system is performing,” he said.
“Having that visibility will allow us to more quickly find and respond to breaks of they occur, particularly in remote locations.
"Leaks can sometimes be a precursor to a water main break, so the sooner we find leaks, the sooner we can fix them and minimise any potential impact on our customers and community.”
Mitigating water loss is not only important in drought conditions but as Sydney Water recently found out, drying soils from a lack of rain caused losses from leaks to jump to 129.5 megalitres a day.
That is the equivalent of one tenth of Sydney’s total water consumption - and almost 70 percent of Hunter Water’s average daily output.
Installation of the sensors around Lake Macquarie is expected to be completed within the next four weeks, with the trial continuing through to June next year.