The impact of leaks affecting water pipelines is often much overlooked. Because the product is seen to be less hazardous than oil or chemicals, it is felt that a small leak here or there is not a good reason to invest in a leak detection system. However, as water becomes more costly and precious in certain areas of the world more and more water companies are investing in the leak detection technology.

 

Issues affecting the water industry are:

  • Leak events
  • Rupture events
  • Theft
  • Contamination
  • Old and poorly maintained infrastructure
  • Loss of supply to populated areas

 

The challenge

Water is an essential part of human life. Most large cities throughout the world rely on their water infrastructure to supply homes, schools, businesses, farms, and emergency services. And yet, a system that is so valuable is often neglected in terms of maintenance and upkeep.

In August 2014, around 450 million litres of water was cut from the usual supply to Mumbai after a water pipeline burst due to high pressure1. The water flooded the nearby slums and houses of local people. The burst was blamed on corrosion of the pipeline which was built when India was still a British colony. This is not the first time such an incident has occurred. A month earlier, a pipeline burst in Kochi, disrupting the roads2.

Burst water pipelines can cause a surprising amount of damage. In 2013, Rio de Janeiro had to evacuate over 100 families after the jet of water knocked 15 houses to the ground and flipped cars over.3

But it is not just large scale leak events that can cause a problem. Non-revenue water (NRW), or water that is ‘lost’ before it reaches the consumers, happens for a number of reasons. Losses can occur at connection points, overflow storage tanks, or simply by mistakes due to inaccurate metering and calculations4. These losses are often not very easy to find.

 


An estimated 25% of the world’s drinking water supply is lost in the pipeline systems5

 

In the Middle East, poorly constructed, or aged pipeline networks can cause millions of gallons of water to be lost in this fashion. In countries as hot as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and United Arab Emirates, losing up to 60% of the water supply5 is a serious concern for the inhabitants and a significant financial loss for the water providers. Water in the region needs to be desalinated before it is safe to drink which is an expensive process. Allowing over half of the supply to be lost is costing profits.

Atmos offers a range of products to help face the challenge

 

Atmos Pipe

Atmos Pipe employs Atmos’ unique statistical volume balance method to provide an extremely reliable leak detection system that can detect both the onset and existing leaks. This is ideal for older pipelines prone to re-occurring leaks.

Atmos Pipe has the ability to identify operational changes in the pipeline and can detect leaks during transient operations. Data validation algorithms and filtering techniques are employed to improve data quality. Flow measurement errors are also learned to assist in the provision of reliable and sensitive leak detection, helping to reduce the problem of inaccurate metering that leads to significant water loss.

Atmos Wave

Atmos Wave detects the rarefaction wave caused by a leak in a pipeline. When a leak occurs, a rarefaction wave travels in both directions along a pipeline. Using fast response pressure meters Atmos Wave filters the pressure signals to find those with the frequency and magnitude of a leak. The time at which the pressure signal reaches each pressure meter is used to determine the location of the leak extremely accurately. It can work with pressure meters only, thus the accuracy of the system does not rely on high performance flow meters.

Atmos Wave Flow

Atmos’ newest leak detection system uses elements from both volume balance and rarefaction wave methods. The sophisticated system uses a multi-element model to reduce uncertainty and improve performance. This provides accurate leak detection and location in a significantly faster time.

Atmos Simulation Suite

Atmos Simulation Suite has a range of powerful and user friendly tools to assist operators in monitoring unmetered lines. It can provide online systems with the ability to forecast operating conditions, offline simulations for design, tuning, and training and a surge analysis module.

Atmos Optimizer

Atmos Optimizer compares many different operating scenarios to determine the optimum settings for running a pipeline, and therefore the minimum cost for meeting the supply and demand schedule. This system is used for liquid pipelines, either as a stand-alone offline tool or online using real-time data from Atmos Batch and a SCADA system.

Atmos Hydraulic Profiler

The Atmos Hydraulic Profiler takes pressure measurements from the pressure transmitters installed on the pipeline and interpolates between the known measurements giving a real-time representation of the pipeline hydraulic conditions. This enables the operator to run the pipeline in the cheapest and safest manner.

 

References 

1 25% water cut in Mumbai today after pipeline bursts in Thane. Mid.day
2 Another Pipe Burst Disrupts Water Supply. The New Indian Express.
3 Burst water pipe floods Rio de Janeiro suburb. BBC News.
4 Assessing non-revenue water and its components: a practical approach. IWA.
5 More than 10 per cent of UAE's precious water supply leaking away. The National UAE.

 

 

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