By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
LINCOLN PARK – Tiffany Neubig of Hennessey Engineering said at the July 19 online city council meeting that the Great Lakes Water Authority has a free-of-charge leak detection pilot program for client cities.
“As some of you may be aware, there is about a 30 percent loss in domestic water throughout our system, so, with the technology that Utilis has, they are going to be able to, through satellite detection technology, hone in on the areas where the leaks are, and how big and widespread these leaks come out to be,” she said.
“So, taking that data, we will be able to overlay it with GIS and the aerial road data, to really figure out where these locations are and eventually look at our capital improvement program to see where we have to adjust to get these leaks fixed.”
Utilis Ltd. is a software company which, since 2016, has provided its satellite-based leak detection product to utility providers.
It uses synthetic aperture radar data from satellites and uses it to determine leak locations by detecting soil moisture below ground, by looking for specific signatures.
The satellite technology can be used night or day, and is not affected by weather conditions.
Geographic Information System, is a conceptualized framework that takes spatial and geographic data and analyzes it.
The water lost by a community, also referred to as “non-revenue water,” is what is lost after it leave the supplying utility before it reaches a measurable user.
The water may be lost to leaky pipes, stolen through illegal connections or be inaccurately metered.
On average, 20 percent of clean water is lost globally between suppliers and consumers.
Utilis detects leaks by satellite, and the locations are reported using GIS coordinates.
Acoustic leak detection, an earlier technology, is time-consuming and expensive, and the leaks detected do not always offer savings to pay for the time and resource invested to detect leaks.
Utilis’ software acquires radar images, and an algorithm analyzes the data, filtering out things like plants, buildings and metal structures.
The data is analyzed to look for the spectral signature of the underground water leaks.
“Leak sheets” are then given to ground personnel, who can zero in on the GIS coordinates to confirm the leaks, and pursue repairs.
Satellite-based technology finds three times more leaks in a given time period than a traditional ground-based acoustic process, and the satellite technology can easily recheck locations after a spot is initially pinpointed.