How To Detect, Locate, and Quantify Water Leaks In Distribution Networks – Part 2

This is the second and last part pof the article “How To Detect, Locate, and Quantify Water Leaks In Distribution Networks”. In this article we will show how to detect, and quantify leaks in water distribution networks, and which are the best practices undertaken by most of the water authorities and companies to avoid problems.

Location Methods for Water Leaks

Once the existence of a water leak has been detected, its location must be determined as quickly as possible. Some of the most common leak location methods are visual inspection, water meter reading, and Water Network Simulation (WNSim) modelling.

– Visual inspection. It is the oldest and one of the most common water leak location methods. It can be performed by utility personnel or even local residents, who may notice and report a potential leak. This simple method is slow, and it requires plenty of resources from water managers and have a high pollution.

– Water meter reading. It is a simple leak detection method, consisting of measuring the water flow at different points in the network using water meters. These readings can help pinpoint and quantify the source of the water leak. The main issue with this method lies on its poor spatial resolution, and water managers need to incorporate additional solutions to gain detection accuracy.

– WNSim modelling. In some situations, it may be necessary to use advanced modelling techniques to determine the location of a water leak. Computer modelling technologies can be used to simulate the movement of water through the network and help to determine the source of a water leak. 

In recent years, advances in fiber-optics research and development have brought forth a new set of water monitoring technologies, based on fiber-optics sensors (FOS), that operate in real time. These systems are capable of detecting water leaks and determining their size with a precision of 5 l/min and a typical location error of a few meters, within tens of kilometers of monitored pipeline. Although FOS technologies have only recently started to see application in the water sector, they are quickly getting traction as a promising monitoring solution, featuring low power consumption, high precision, and uninterrupted operation.

Figure 1.-Fibsen’s FOS-based real time water leak detector.

Quantifying the Size of a Water Leak

Water leaks in distribution networks can be difficult to detect, locate, and quantify. Sometimes, the leak may be so small that it can only be detected by visual inspection. In such cases, it may be necessary to first use advanced technologies such as fiber-optics distributed acoustic sensors to detect the vibration produced by the leak, and then follow up by visual inspection. In other cases, the size of the leak may be very large, and it may be difficult to even detect a leak with the naked eye. In such a case, advanced technologies such as water network simulation modelling can be used.

Best Practices for Identifying and Responding to Water Leaks

With the rise in demand for water around the world, being able to detect, locate, and quantify water leaks has become a fundamental necessity. A number of good practices can be adopted to take steps in this direction: 

– Install and maintain water meters. 

– Invest in water leak detection systems. A robust, reliable, and continuous monitoring system is the best leak prevention mechanism.

– Respond quickly to detected water leaks. 

– Create a water leak detection plan. A solid lead detection plan is a must-have for ensuring quick response and optimal data gathering.

– Respond to water leak reports. Residents and local authorities can also be an important asset in water leak detection.

– Investigate all water leaks. After a water leak has been detected, it is important to investigate its source to prevent further ramifications.

Figure 2 .-Water leak being repaired in Greece, found during our Demo case TALOS