SA Water has deployed a network of over 400 sensors in water pipes running under the Adelaide CBD, allowing it to identify faults and leaks faster.
Manager of water assets and the project's architect, Dr Helen Edmonds, told this week's Ozwater’18 conference in Brisbane that the system had prevented 15 pipe breaks in its first ten months of operation.
The data is collected through 305 acoustic leak detection sensors, 34 pressure sensors of which 23 are transient loggers, 11 flow meters, three water quality monitors, and 100 smart meters on customer connections.
The information is transmitted over LTE and narrowband networks to an undisclosed analytics platform, at between five and 15 minute intervals.
"Identifying a potential leak and intervening has been hugely rewarding, but there’s also been a sense of accomplishment in analysing the data and understanding the immediacy of some sudden ruptures that didn’t offer any warning signals," Edmonds said.
So far, SA Water said that insights had been gathered "on the forces within and outside of the network that can contribute to faults, such as pressure transients arising from customer activity."
“One of the transient loggers detected a recurring event with a consistent hydraulic character, happening on the same day and time, every week, and it turned out to be the result of a large building’s fire service being tested," Edmonds said.
“Having this information meant we could work together with the building owner to calm the weekly testing process, and also with the technical regulator to amend design standards for future builds.
“Importantly, it means the customer will have far less chance of a water main break right outside their building, and the interruption this would cause their operations.”
The utility was also able to detect a faulty float valve that was overfilling a building's header tank, which is used to maintain gravity pressure in water system.
“We were able to alert a customer to 100 litres a minute being lost by a faulty float valve constantly refilling their building’s header tank, and the excess water just overflowing into the sewer," SA Water said in a statement.
"Left undetected until their next bill, the water loss alone in that case would have cost over $15,000 a month.”
The utility is now planning to deploy the same technology later this year to four new zones of its water network, as well as to its wastewater network.