Detect Water Leaks With Innovative Acoustic Detection System

Time is of the essence when it comes to aging infrastructure. Detect small leaks before they become big problems with help from this automated detection system.
Detect Water Leaks With Innovative Acoustic Detection System
Deployed at regular intervals throughout the water pipeline network, leak- intelligence units monitor and analyze noise characteristics within the pipe network and can detect and identify the presence and location of a leak.

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News about disruptions caused by broken water mains and the impact of daily water loss due to America’s aging — and leaking — water infrastructure has captured headlines coast to coast. Aclara, a leader in smart infrastructure technology for water, gas and electric utilities, has developed STAR ZoneScan, an advanced automated detection system that can pinpoint underground leaks in water mains to within just three feet by collecting and analyzing acoustic data, thus helping to speed repair and identify trouble spots before they become major problems.

“In many communities, 10 to 20 percent of water pumped into distribution systems may be lost due to leaks," says Allan Connolly, Aclara CEO. "As infrastructure gets older, the water loss might rise to more than 50 percent. From an environmental perspective, this situation wastes a great deal of water — a precious resource that is becoming more valuable every day. From the water utility’s perspective, leaks contribute to the amount of nonrevenue water — in this case, water that has been produced and lost before it reaches the customer — and that places a financial burden on the agency.

“The STAR ZoneScan system is a powerful tool to detect and locate small underground leaks before they become major problems,” Connolly says. “Studies suggest there are about 240,000 water main breaks in the United States each year. STAR ZoneScan helps provide an early warning system that identifies problem spots within feet of the defect.”

STAR ZoneScan automates the collection, retrieval and analysis of acoustic data gathered throughout the water system, listening for and recording vibrations in the quiet early hours when factors affecting leak noise are minimized. The system combines the strengths of leak-intelligence units with Aclara’s two-way, fixed-network automated metering infrastructure (AMI) technology that incorporates two-way communication between the utility head-end and endpoints and time-synchronized initiation of sound recordings. Central to the system are highly sensitive acoustic data loggers that are deployed at regular intervals on valves throughout the water-distribution network. The devices monitor the noise characteristics within the pipe network and send this information back to the water utility.

Data from individual leak-intelligence units is automatically correlated to pinpoint the presence and location of leaks. Web-based application software correlates the data between loggers and provides visual identification of high probability leak locations. Repair crews can then be dispatched to the site with confidence that leak locations have been identified. Additionally, the system's accuracy reduces the amount of digging required to access the leak, thus saving cost and speeding repairs.

The STAR ZoneScan system provides critical information with only minimal operator involvement. Once the units are installed, operators can monitor the system and analyze results at the utility office. No manual or drive-by data collection is required. STAR ZoneScan can be deployed as a stand-alone system or added on to an existing STAR network AMI system.

About Aclara
Aclara Technologies LLC is a world-class supplier of smart infrastructure technologies to water, gas and electric utilities globally. More than 500 utilities in nine countries rely on proven Aclara solutions to connect with their customers. Aclara is owned by Sun Capital Partners. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @AclaraSolutions.


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