The Situation

Columbus Water Works (CWW) supplies drinking water and wastewater services to the cities of Columbus and Fort Benning, as well as parts of Harris and Talbot counties – that’s over 250,000 residents.

CWW maintains 1,164 miles of water mains in the city and surrounding area, as well as an additional 221 miles of mains in Fort Benning.

The 2010 Water Stewardship Act enacted by the state of Georgia has accelerated several utilities’ water loss and control programs. Provoked by the Act and the Water Supply Efficient Improvement Plan mandating that “by July 1, 2016, Public water systems shall develop and conduct a water loss control program to investigate, assess, and implement efforts to improve water supply efficiency,” CWW set out to develop a comprehensive plan for not only meeting, but exceeding the required objectives.

The Action

CWW meticulously investigated and evaluated their program options through extensive industry research, visitation of other Georgia utilities, finally hosting three on-site equipment demonstrations.

CWW decided on Primayer Ltd. equipment, a UK company distributed statewide by Matchpoint Water Asset Management Inc. (MWAM). Leading with technology, CWW implemented a plan that would not only reduce water loss, but also produce meaningful data regarding the integrity of their water network.

Abiding by traditional leak detection practices, CWW follows the four-step process of localization, pinpointing, confirmation, and validation, to address leakage.

Acoustic noise logging is the engine of CWW’s program. In 2016, the CWW in-house leak detection team began deploying the purchased 108 Phocus3 noise loggers to localize their network. In order to get acquainted with the technology, CWW first beta tested the equipment on twenty-six miles of distribution system in the Oakland Park Area with over 225 logger deployments. This high-density population area was first chosen by CWW due to its variety of water main sizes, ages, and various repair methods throughout the years. (Below: Logger deployment in Oakland Park)

 

The Results

The Phocus3 loggers are used in lift-n-shift mode, a cost effective method that allows the utility to move the loggers around their network on a regular basis to thoroughly evaluate their entire system.

When deployed, this type of logger, which has been helping utilities battle water loss since the 1980’s, listens for leakage three times during the night when water usage is at its lowest point. The logger will go into “leak mode” if leakage is calculated, and on-site results are then obtained and analyzed by the utility.

CWW then follows up using a Eureka3+ noise correlator to pinpoint the leaks highlighted from the Phocus3 loggers. The correlator’s two sensors are placed on the valves or fittings of the problematic area and measure the time taken for the leak noise to travel between both points. The distance in feet from each sensor is computed, allowing for personnel to confirm the predicted location.

CWW personnel then physically visit the spot calculated by the Eureka3 and use a Mikron3 ground microphone to confirm the leak’s exact location. This part of the process requires skill and expertise to use the technology to decipher a true leak noise from ambient noise. The loudest leak noise indicates the position of the leak. This thorough 4-step process helps CWW eliminate dry holes, or a leak-free excavation. Dry holes can cost anywhere from a couple hundred to a couple thousands dollars depending on the severity and location of the dig. To date, CWW has been precise with their leak locating and have dug zero dry holes. (Below: View of Phocus3 software, PrimeWeb)

 

The Conclusion

During this initial beta phase in the Oakland Park area, CWW successfully located and repaired ten leaks.

Two of the leaks discovered were flowing into storm water lines and would have never been found if not for CWW’s rigorous leak detection efforts with this equipment. Those two leaks combined accounted for over 45 gallons per minute of water loss.

The ten combined leaks contributed to an estimated annual loss of nearly thirty-four million gallons of water. The physical loss equates to over $77,000 of combined annual retail and variable costs to date. Subsequent discoveries have been made due to the leak detection program, such as broken meter boxes and sewer issues, which would have otherwise gone unnoticed.

CWW Programs Manager, Jason Jay remarked “Matchpoint’s level of service is second to none.  Every employee we have dealt with has been knowledgeable and helpful.  We have been extremely satisfied and impressed with the Primayer Equipment.  Simply put – it is easy to learn and use, but more importantly it works!”

CWW is excited about the early successes of their program and looks forward to continuing to expand upon the proven precedent they have set.

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