Council uses high-tech audio to detect water leaks

8 October, 2014Posted in: Roads and Assets

Maintenance and monitoring of water trunk mains is essential to ensure that reliable water supply is maintained, but in rural areas such as the Southern Highlands, this maintenance can be an expensive exercise.

“Trunk mains are the large diameter water pipes that traverse our Shire,” explained Council’s Water Coordinator Alan Butler.

“They supply water from our dams and filtration plants to smaller residential pipes which eventually feed into homes and businesses.”

“But looking after these trunk mains can be time-consuming as they are often located in remote areas.

“However if a leak develops in a trunk main, not only is valuable drinking water wasted, but in worse case scenarios, the main could burst leaving entire villages without water.”

In an Australian-first, Wingecarribee Shire Council is using high-tech audio detection equipment to permanently monitor one of its largest water trunk mains.

“When water escapes from a leak under pressure, it causes the water pipe to vibrate,” said Alan.

The Sebalog system analyses radio frequencies sent from data loggers located on the trunk main to locate potential leaks before they become a nuisance.

“Time is of the essence when detecting and locating leaks,” Alan added.  “Apart from alerting Council staff as to water loss, this acoustic system analyses the noise frequency of the leak to help us pinpoint exactly where the leak is coming from.”

“This therefore saves us time, money and water.”

Council has been trialling the German-made water detection system on a 14 kilometre section of its Werai to Moss Valetrunk main since the start of the year with promising results.

“Within months of its introduction we were able to identify a number of previously undetected minor leaks which we’ve since fixed,” Alan said.

“This alone has helped us save a considerable amount of water and money and as a result, we’re looking at expanding the system to other Council maintained trunk mains where access may prove difficult.”

Council’s introduction of the audio detection system follows a similar Australian-first trial last year whereby it used a slurry of ice – known as ‘ice-pigging’ – to clean built-up debris in residential water pipes.