If you manage a municipality or an extensive water system, you know that losing water is an inevitability. Parts of our current water infrastructure in the United States can be upwards of 100 years old. With these old and aging pipes, there will be breaks, cracks, and leaks. Before we get into why it’s essential to get a routine water loss inspection, let’s talk about some of the science on how leaks are detected.
How are Leaks Detected?
GPRS Leak Detection Specialists utilize various technologies and decades of experience to pinpoint even the quietest, most remote leaks on even the most extensive systems.
GPRS uses two primary technologies for our Leak Detection services:
1. Acoustic Leak Detection
Acoustic leak detection uses sophisticated ground microphones to listen for leaks coming from subsurface pipes—our thoroughly trained Leak Detection Specialists home in on leaking pipes’ specific sounds and frequencies.
Pipes made of metal, such as iron mains, copper services, and steel pipes, transmit water leak sounds that are louder and more repetitive than those made of PVC or asbestos cement pipes. Accordingly, it is critical to consider the pipe material and the size. Small diameter pipes are more likely to transmit sound than large diameter pipes, regardless of their material.
2. Leak Noise Correlators
Leak Detection Correlators (also called leak noise correlators) are specialized electronic devices that leak detection service companies like us use to locate leaks in water lines and water pipes quickly and accurately. Correlators take data measurements from sensors placed on both sides of the pipe, and these sensors send information back and forth through the pipe by radio. An automated process identifies each suspected leak and maps its location in response to anomalies. The processing unit then compares this data with mathematical algorithms designed for specific noise profiles like water hissing, determining where the leak is coming from along the length of the pipe.
Now that you know how leaks are detected, here are the top five reasons to get a routine water loss inspection today.
Water loss is costly no matter where it occurs in the system. If the water loss happens before the meter, the cost accrues for the municipality, and if it occurs after the meter, the cost accrues by private owners.
But this challenge begs the question, how common is water loss? Researchers at the American Water Works Association estimated that we collectively lose more than two trillion gallons of water due to leaks within the current United States’ infrastructure. That is enough to submerge Manhattan 300 feet underwater.
In addition, according to the Alliance for Water Efficiency, these water losses can cost the utility industry as much as $2.8 billion in lost utility revenue.
Many aspects affect the integrity of your pipes, but all of them can affect the performance of your water lines. If there are subsurface leaks in a water system, municipalities will encounter a loss of water pressure. This lack of pressure can cause pumps to work harder. This overuse can result in damages to equipment and an increase in energy consumption, increasing costs for everyone involved.
Routine water loss inspections aren’t only a great cost-saving measure, but they’re also good for the environment. The more fresh water we can conserve, the less energy and resources we must use to clean otherwise non-drinkable water. We must understand that while freshwater is technically considered a renewable resource, it is a challenging and costly resource to manage. Freshwater accounts for only 3% of the globe’s water supply, and according to Water Footprint®, the USA holds less than 5% of that.
If we ran out of freshwater, some people believe we could desalinate ocean water and convert it into drinking water. There are two main problems with this, first is that it would make drinking water enormously costly. Every ounce of water would have to be pushed through an expensive and energy-hungry machine, driving the cost of drinking water up significantly. Second, we do not currently have the infrastructure of such desalination machines to effectively provide enough water for even just our country’s citizens.
Thankfully, water loss is not currently a national crisis. However, we can all do our part to conserve water. One of the most significant forms of water loss in the U.S. is water being lost through the cracks in our infrastructure. GPRS Leak Detection Specialists are excellent at locating and mapping out leaks for private and public entities.
Water pipe leaks can cause various issues underground. Voids can often be attributed to leaks that have gone unfixed. This occurs because the water leaking out of the pipe slowly erodes parts of the soil, eventually creating pockets of air underneath the ground. These voids can be extremely dangerous and cause severe structural damage to buildings and structures.
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), on average, subsurface voids cause over $300 million in damages every year. That’s like buying 15 of the Bugatti La Voiture Noire (the most expensive car in the world) and then throwing them into a trash compactor. Not only that, but these subsurface voids can also be dangerous. There’s always a risk factor when discussing the damages caused by subsurface leaks.
In addition to voids, mold is a severe risk when considering subsurface leaks. When water has escaped the pipe, this can trap moisture in areas where it shouldn’t be. Mold damages can be extraordinarily costly and difficult to treat.
The most critical reason to get a routine water loss inspection is that all the issues listed above are preventable. Cost, subpar water performance, environmental impact, and property damages caused by water loss are entirely avoidable. Often people will wait until there is an acute water loss problem before scheduling a leak detection; and by that point, a business or municipality could have potentially lost many thousands of dollars in water loss.
GPRS specializes in all types of leak detection, including municipal, industrial, and residential. Our Leak Detection Specialists have the equipment to locate your leak and the expertise to provide many other insights into your water distribution system. GPRS does this by utilizing various equipment paired with their industry-leading SIM process.