GPRS Leak Detection Mitigates Non-Revenue Water Loss

GPRS Leak Detection Mitigates Non-Revenue Water Loss

A man in a vest and hard hat inspects a fire hydrant.
GPRS Leak Detection Services utilize acoustic leak detection and leak noise correlators to pinpoint known leaks and/or proactively search for leaks along domestic water or fire systems.

Non-revenue water (NRW) loss is a term you’ll hear a lot when reading about America’s infrastructure problems.

It simply refers to water that never reaches its intended customer, either due to leakage, waste, or theft.

Leaks and other age-related defects are one of the leading causes of NRW loss.

  • According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, a water main breaks every two minutes somewhere along the 2.2 million miles of water pipes in the country.
  • An estimated 6 billion gallons of treated water are lost daily in the U.S. That’s enough water to fill over 9,000 swimming pools.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that we collectively lose more than 2.1 trillion gallons of water annually due to leaks within the current infrastructure. That’s enough to submerge Manhattan 300 feet underwater.
  • Severe leaks can also cause significant problems underground by eroding soil, causing voids that eventually lead to sinkholes, and compromising the integrity of buildings. All of this can happen without water every reaching the surface, so you won’t know you have a problem until it’s a catastrophe.

It’s no wonder that our drinking water infrastructure system scored a C- in the ASCE’s 2021 Report Card.

Everyone from government officials to utility operators are desperate to find the most efficient methods of leak remediation before these kinds of issues occur.

They’re willing to try anything.

In Delaware, Ohio, one water company even brought in a leak detection canine – a full-bred Belgian Malinois named Keena – to help sniff out leaks in buried drinking water lines.

Of course, Keena isn’t the company’s primary tool for leak detection.

The best way to accurately locate leaks is to hire a leak detection company like GPRS. We utilize acoustic leak detection and leak noise correlators to pinpoint known leaks and/or proactively search for leaks along domestic pressurized water or fire systems, helping you regain control of your infrastructure and saving you time and money in the process.

How Does GPRS Detect Leaks?

GPRS uses two primary technologies for our leak detection services:

1. Acoustic Leak Detection

Using sophisticated ground microphones, our Project Managers listen for leaks coming from pressurized subsurface pipes. They are specially trained to listen for specific sounds and frequencies that indicate a leak along the system.

Pipes made of metal, such as cast iron/ductile mains, smaller copper service lines, and steel pipes transmit water leak sounds over longer distances than pipes made of PVC or asbestos-cement. Small diameter pipes are more likely to transmit more sound than large diameter pipes, regardless of their material, while large diameter pipes transmit lower frequency sounds than small diameter pipes.

GPRS Project Managers are trained to consider the pipe material and its size when determining how best to evaluate your water system.

2. Leak Noise Correlators

Also called Leak Detection Correlators, these specialized electronic devices are used by our Project Managers to locate leaks quickly and accurately in water lines.

Sensors are placed on both sides of the pipe. These sensors send information back and forth between each other, and an automated process identifies each suspected underground water leak location and displays it on the main control unit. The processing unit then compares this data with mathematical algorithms designed for the specific noise profiles of the pipe material being tested, determining where the leak is coming from between each sensor’s location.

GPRS Project Managers map out leaks using the data collected with leak detection correlators, and then pinpoint the leaks using acoustic leak detection equipment.

An elephant foot microphone on pavement with a man standing in the background.
One of the primary tools in the GPRS Leak Detection arsenal is the DXmic paired with an "elephant foot" acoustic leak detection system.

Routine Water Loss Inspection

To aid in the shared goal of healthier infrastructure, GPRS has introduced maintenance plans that detail the best practices for proactive maintenance of water systems.

We recommend the following for municipal water system maintenance and safety:

Annual Water Loss Surveys

All water systems should undergo annual water loss surveys for preventative maintenance.

A leak detection specialist is contracted to use acoustic leak detection and leak detection correlators to evaluate the integrity of the system.

Visible Surface Leaks

Leak detection services should be conducted any time visible surface leaks are present. Standing surface water or water flowing from a surface leak are indicators of a critical, possibly dangerous subsurface leak.

Leaking water systems can also lead to contaminated drinking water that compromises a community’s health and safety.

New Installation/Repairs

Leak detection services should be conducted any time water infrastructure is installed or repaired to ensure the integrity of both the new and pre-existing infrastructure.

When new pipe segments are installed, they can sometimes carry small, almost indetectable defects that will eventually cause service interruptions, damage, or loss of pressure. Leak detection services can identify these defects so they can be corrected before these issues occur.

From skyscrapers to sewer lines, GPRS Intelligently Visualizes The Built World® to keep your projects on time, on budget, and safe.

What can we help you visualize? Visit the links below to schedule a service or request a quote today.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Leak Detection:

How many miles of pipe can GPRS test in one day?

The amount of pipe we can test depends on a variety of external factors, but our Project Managers work efficiently because they are trained to hear the specific tone that a leak produces compared to any other number of noises.

Why does leak detection usually occur early in the morning?

Our acoustic listening equipment is highly sensitive and amplifies leaks and other noises which mask leak signals during the day. In a city environment, the ambient noise – airplanes, traffic, mowers, machinery, and most importantly, people using water – can often mask the noise made by the leak. The GPRS Project Manager assigned to your job will determine if night work is necessary to minimize the amount of ambient noise.

Can you determine the size of a detected leak?

We determine the size of the leak by how far the leak signal travels between contact points and the pitch of the tone received. We do not, however, produce formal leak estimations.

Why don’t I see any water at the location where you’ve detected a leak?

Water finds the path of least resistance. Water can run through cracks in subsurface rock or make its way into storm, sanitary, and conduit piping. If the subsurface contains a high volume of sand, it will naturally flow farther down. In nearly all the leaks we locate, there is no water visible on the surface.