GPRS Locates $6,000 Leak

Utility Locating, Leak Detection Services Find Water Main Buried Under Dense Vegetation

GPRS Locates $6,000 Leak

Utility Locating, Leak Detection Services Find Water Main Buried Under Dense Vegetation

What would you do if you received a $6,000 water bill?

That’s exactly what happened in Malibu, California, where a leaking water main caused costly headaches for one poor homeowner.

GPRS traversed difficult terrain to locate the leak, accelerating the repair process and mitigating future non-revenue water (NRW) loss in the process.

GPRS Project Manager Rolando Medina was called out to Malibu to locate the known leak on a 2” PVC water main. The challenge on this job was that the leaking line ran through a vacant, sloped lot that was completely covered with dense vegetation.

A truck and a GPRS Project Manager in a sloped field.
This was the terrain that GPRS Project Manager Rolando Medina traversed to locate a leaking water main that was costing one nearby homeowner thousands of dollars in non-revenue water (NRW) loss.

Before locating the leak, Medina first used ground penetrating radar (GPR) to locate the buried line, which he determined was sitting two feet under the weed-choked soil.

GPR is a non-destructive detection and imaging technology that can be used to locate and map infrastructure below ground or within concrete. A GPR scanner emits radio waves, which interact with, or “bounce,” off any objects they encounter. The GPR unit reads these interactions and displays them in a readout as a series of hyperbolas varying in size and shape depending on what was located. A qualified utility locating technician can interpret the findings to tell you where it’s safe to dig, cut, or core – and more importantly, where you should not break ground.

GPR can detect both metallic and non-metallic objects, giving it a wide range of applications. When operated by a properly trained technician, it can reveal all types of utilities – including a PVC water main buried under a grassy slope in Malibu.

Medina relied on his GPRS training to guide him as he traversed the tricky terrain and located the line with GPR. That training is built around the Subsurface Investigation Methodology (SIM), the industry-leading process for conducting concrete scanning, utility locating, leak detection, and sewer scope inspections.

Every GPRS Project Manager must become SIM certified, which requires completing a minimum of 80 hours of classroom training and 320 hours of field training. During this training, the Project Managers encounter real-world scenarios designed to prepare them for even the most difficult situations they may encounter in the field. So, Medina was suitably prepared to handle the situation in Malibu.

Once he’d located the water main with GPR, Medina deployed his DXmic electronic ground microphone to locate the leak through a process known as acoustic leak detection. This involves listening for the specific sounds and frequencies that emanate from leaking pipes to home in on a leak’s location. Through this process, GPRS saves you time and money you’d otherwise spend on exploratory excavation to find known leaks.

A GPRS Project Manager uses an electronic ground microphone.
Rolando Medina used his DXmic electronic ground microphone to pinpoint a leak along a 2" water main.

Pipes made of metal, such as cast iron or ductile mains, smaller copper service lines, and steel pipes transmit water leak sounds over longer distances than pipes such as the PVC one Medina was investigating. Small diameter pipes, however, are more likely to transmit more sound than large diameter pipes, regardless of their material. Since the line Medina was evaluating was only 2” in diameter, the leak transmitted enough sound for him to detect with his DXmic.

“The client appreciated the timeliness of the job completion, and was happy that we were able to assist,” Medina said. “We also helped coordinate the plumbers to be able to repair the leak on the same day of the inspection.”

Water bursts from a leaking pipe.
GPRS was able to locate this leak along a 2" water main in Malibu, California.

The water lost to a leak is considered non-revenue water loss, which is water that enters a system but does not reach the end user.

You don’t just feel the effects of NRW loss in your wallet; leaking pipes can damage surrounding infrastructure, leading to subsurface voids that can turn into sinkholes. And a compromised water system can quickly become a contaminated one, which is why boil advisories typically succeed water main breaks.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) reports that a water main break occurs every two minutes in the U.S., and an estimated 6 billion gallons of treated water are lost daily to these breaks and other, similar defects in our country’s water infrastructure. That’s enough water to fill over 9,000 swimming pools.

It’s no wonder that the ASCE gave America’s drinking water infrastructure a C- in its most recent Infrastructure Report Card.

The best way to mitigate NRW loss is to hire a leak detection company near you to perform a routine water loss survey of your system.

GPRS leak detection services offer a non-destructive method of uncovering the factors that cause leaks in underground water systems, including areas of corrosion, high system pressure, damage caused by construction, improper installation, failing or damaged joints, and more.

We recommend that water systems receive annual inspections by professional leak detection specialists, to mitigate the risk of NRW loss, reduce property damage, and eliminate water pollution caused by leaking water systems.

Don’t wait until you have a problem to seek a solution; ensure your water stays where it belongs, and your infrastructure continues to work for you instead of against you.

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

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

Frequently Asked Questions

Does GPRS offer leak detection services near me?

Yes! With over 500 SIM-certified Project Managers strategically stationed across the United States, we’re able to rapidly respond to your jobsite no matter where it’s located and provide you with the services you need for your projects to stay on time, on budget, and safe.

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

Water finds the path of least resistance. It 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. There is no water visible on the surface in more than 99% of the leaks we locate.

How many miles of pipe can GPRS investigate in a day?

Our Project Managers can typically test up to 10 miles of pipe a day on a metallic system (cast iron or ductile). They can work efficiently because they’re trained to hear the specific tone that a leak produces.