Reducing Water System Bursts and Leaks

Continuous pressure monitoring helps detect transients and improve system resilience

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Evides is a water company that delivers 3.6 billion liters of water per week to 2.5 million customers in the southwest area of the Netherlands. This includes the large port city of Rotterdam, a city of about 650,000 people. In the Hoeksche Waard, south of Rotterdam, Evides was experiencing frequent pressure variations, resulting in a high rate of nonrevenue water and significant repair expenses. To investigate and determine the causes, they worked with Syrinix to deploy a series of PIPEMINDER-ONE pressure monitors throughout the district’s metered area.

Detecting transients

Hydraulic transients are pressure surges in fluid transmission lines caused by sudden changes in pipeline and pumping system flow rates. In most cases, transients are traced to a problem involving a pump station or customer behavior. Transients can exert enough pressure to exceed the capacity of the pipe and cause a burst, so tracking transients in real time provides the opportunity to take immediate action to calm the network. In this way, water system managers can drastically reduce breaches, save money on water loss and repair costs, and build a more reliable and resilient network.

Pressure and acoustic monitoring are the foundation of transient and leak detection as well as  prevention of non-revenue water and service outages. PIPEMINDER-ONE from Syrinix is a small pressure monitor that utilizes a highly precise 20 bar pressure sensor sampling at 128 times a second, alongside precision network timestamping, that fits into a hydrant or chamber and collects data that can be analyzed in real time to predict a transient or locate a burst.

The pressure monitors and their corresponding software generate instant text and email alerts as well as alarm exports to operational platforms. These alerts and alarms inform operators of critical events like pressure valves going above or below desired limits. RADAR, Syrinix’s secure, cloud-based data analytics platform, automatically tracks the source location of bursts and major pressure events.

Minor but more frequent transient “noise” can, over time, cause significant wear and tear on pipes and other assets. High-resolution monitoring can often mitigate this behavior quickly and inexpensively, averting larger transients and improving the overall network health. If a burst does occur, the technology already has the historical data that helps locate the burst quickly, to minimize water loss and system downtime.

Triangulation algorithms make use of multiple devices on a network to locate the source of irregular behavior in the network. Due to the high sample rate and analytics platform, a system problem can quickly be located and addressed.

Using proactive tools, the Syrinix system provides burst alerts, transient event detection, operational and maintenance alarms and support for integrating flow, water quality, SCADA and other third-party data.

Identifying problem areas

In Rotterdam, the first phase included 21 devices, which were spread out across the municipality’s water system in March 2022 to detect the system transients that were causing leaks and bursts. In June, system operators spotted irregular transient activity in an area of the service district. Evides used data from the pressure monitors and analytics from RADAR to automatically analyze data from multiple sensors to determine the exact onset of the pressure wave at each monitor. These onsets were then grouped together into an event, and the event source location was calculated using Syrinix’s triangulation algorithm.

In the Hoeksche Waard, RADAR triangulated the source of the transients to a fire station. Further investigation revealed that when filling their fire truck water tanks during weekly Thursday night practice sessions, station personnel were closing the ball valve in the fire truck and opening their hydrant too quickly, which resulted in a major pressure drop and subsequent disturbance throughout the system. The same activity was also occurring on Monday and Tuesday nights, which happened to coincide with practice sessions for the youth fire department.

Outreach and education

The problem was solved by a visit from Evides, during which the company representatives showed fire station personnel the RADAR dashboard and demonstrated how opening the hydrant too quickly was causing the transient. They then instructed them on how to gradually open the hydrant when filling their tanks to avoid causing a transient in the future.

With this transient issue resolved, Evides continues to distribute pressure monitors to other places in the service area to check for problematic activity, calm their system and ultimately reduce bursts and leaks. Insights from the PIPEMINDER-ONE devices, along with smart, actionable alarms, empower Evides to enhance, mitigate and innovate to extend asset life and minimize adverse impact on customers.

Better resilience

The resilience of the underground water infrastructure and water conservation are two key elements of Evides’ environmental strategy. By keeping tabs on system pressure and minimizing transients, Evides is helping to prolong the life of the water distribution network and avoid bursts and leaks. This is one way the utility is supporting its commitment to the environment and future-proofing its water supply in the Netherlands, a coastal nation with a long history of learning how to optimize its relationship with water, where both the public and private sectors have prioritized water resiliency.

“In short, thanks to the Syrinix devices, we found the main source of the transients in our system, explained what was causing them and have significantly reduced the number of transients in our network,” says Evides reliability engineer Niek Bossers.

Mark Hendy is the vice president of business development for Syrinix, EMEA.


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