Preemptive strikes by EPWater

Preemptive strikes by EPWater
Posted on 08/28/2018
Loggers help EPWater detect and locate leaks. Photo by SebaKMT

El Paso Water is on the hunt – for leaks. Since 2004, EPWater has purchased and installed thousands of sensors to track down leaks and make repairs before a main break can occur.

With more than 2,600 miles of water distribution lines, the sensors, known as loggers, have proven to be a valuable asset in maintaining lines and improving the reliability of water service.

The five-inch long detection devices save customers the inconvenience that often comes with water outages. In the past four years, EPWater saved an estimated 183 million gallons of water thanks to the technology. That’s more than the amount of water produced city-wide on a hot a summer day.

Loggers throughout El Paso

Illustration of wireless data retrieval from loggers. Photo by SebaKMT“We have 12,000 of these loggers that are deployed around the city,” said Angel Bustamante, water systems division manager for EPWater. “In the street there are a series of valve boxes that can be opened; you simply magnetically attach a logger on top of the operating unit, and then close it, and it does its job.”

The waterproof loggers are programmed to “listen” for frequencies and decibels specific to leaks in all types of 12-inch water lines and smaller.

To preserve battery life, loggers are programmed to listen exclusively at night when water pressure is higher and background noise is reduced. Once a leak is detected, the device wirelessly transmits the data to a master command module transported by contractors as they perform sweeps of the city.

Listening for leaks

Listening for leaks at EPWaterThe contractor will investigate further with headphones and a well-practiced ear to confirm the leak at the site. “It sounds a little bit between a mix of a humming noise and a running water kind of noise,” explained Bustamante. “Unless you have a trained ear, you probably couldn’t pick it up.”

“It’s tricky,” said Bustamante when explaining how to pinpoint a location. “Our crews will go out to where it is marked and dig. Once you dig that’s the only way to confirm an actual leak.”

Watch this short video to learn more about the leak detection program.

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