Before its sensor and analytics technology system had even become fully operational, Aquify found an unreported leak that was spilling 720,000 gallons of treated drinking water per day into a storm sewer.
Utility water leaks are inevitable, especially in this time of aging water infrastructure. Leaks are calculated in gallons-per-minute (GPM) but an equally important measurement is leak run time (how long a leak runs before it’s repaired). Large main breaks may lose a lot of water but are often discovered quickly and fixed immediately, thus having a short “run time”. Smaller leaks lose less water per minute but if undiscovered for days, weeks or months will lose much more water than large leaks. That’s why reducing water loss is as much about finding the leaks that go unnoticed as it is about rushing to fix a big, disruptive break.
Skokie was in the final stages of implementing an Aquify system which included 36 sensors, machine learning analytics software, and 24/7 monitoring and analytics services to do just that. Monitoring early data from these new sensors, Emma Quail, Aquify’s customer success manager, identified a significant increase in flow in the Village’s Southeast zone, analyzed their system and SCADA data and notified Skokie’s utility crew
Water from a broken 8” water main pours into a manhole at the intersection of two busy streets muffling the sound of rushing water
Skokie’s crew went out to the target area but couldn’t see evidence of a leak. But the Skokie team trusted Emma and the Aquify data and started inspecting storm sewer manholes. Sure enough, they found a rush of drinking water running into the storm sewer. The non-surfacing leak was losing 500 gallon per minute (the equivalent of 720,000 gallons per day). The break, which occurred on an 8” cast iron pipe, was located at one of Skokie’s busiest intersections, which muffled the sound of rushing water making it extremely difficult to detect.
Locating and repairing the break happened over two days instead of many months, saving considerable water loss and money for the Village. This is especially important for Skokie, who use 2.75 billion gallons annually which is purchased from the City of Evanston. Had the leak continued for multiple months, the cost of the water loss alone (not including energy costs for water pumping) would have exceeded the cost of the first year of Aquify service.
A 500 GPM leak is considered small by utilities standards, and without sensors and analytics such leaks can go undetected for weeks and months. Consider this: a 500 GPM Leak is…
- 720,000 gallons of treated and pumped water wasted in a day.
- 5 million gallons of water wasted in a week.
- The equivalent water used every day by 2,400 households.
- $25,776.00 in wasted expenses per month (cost of water)