Fixing The Leaks Great Lakes Region Water Losses Solutions

Around six billion gallons of treated water is lost every day in the United States – this represents about 16 percent of the country’s daily water use. While this represents the loss of a critical resource, it also represents a significant financial burden for end users, since the lost revenue from aging pipes, faulty meters and illegal connections often leads to higher rates – between 1996 and 2010, the cost of water services in the US rose by nearly 90 percent.

In the Great Lakes states (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin), specifically, roughly 66.5 billion gallons of treated water is lost every year. This is enough water to meet the annual water needs of roughly 1.9 million Americans.

In an effort to establish the Great Lakes states as leaders in sustainable water management and develop best practices, the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), a Chicago-based nonprofit focused on sustainable cities, released a report titled The Case for Fixing the Leaks, which is part of a collaborative campaign focused on Great Lakes states, calling for leadership in improved water management.

The report focuses on region-specific challenges to water loss and outlines potential solutions to help utilities manage their water infrastructure in the long term.

Read The case for Fixing the Leaks” Report»

AFO Monitoring
Leaking Pipe

Leaking pipes contribute to the loss of 16 percent of treated water in the United States.

Sahara Insertion

Pure Technologies staff insert the Sahara® tool into a live pipeline.

Leaks Map - CNW

One method that utilities can use to reduce their Non-Revenue Water (NRW) – which can be defined as water that is produced for consumption and lost before it reaches the customer – is having a well-developed leak detection program for both small- and large-diameter water mains.

For large-diameter pipes, the most effective method of identifying leaks is through the use of inline leak detection. This method brings the leak detection sensor directly to the source of the leak, which provides the highest level of accuracy. Non-invasive methods, such as correlators or listening sticks, work very well on small-diameter distribution mains but often lack the accuracy needed to address large pipes as the sound of a leak does not travel as well as pipe diameter increases.

According to one study by the American Water Works Association (AWWA), accurately locating and repairing leaks on large-diameter mains is the best way to reduce NRW through leak detection, as almost 50 percent of the water lost through leaks is through large-diameter pipeline assets. Identifying leaks also increases service reliability and reduces the likelihood of a pipeline failure, as the presence of leaks is often a preliminary indication of a failure location.

To accurately locate leaks, Pure Technologies offers two different solutions that can typically locate leaks within 6-feet (1.8-meters) of their actual location.

The SmartBall® platform is a free-flowing acoustic tool that can survey long distances in a single deployment while a main remains in operation. The Sahara® platform is a tethered tool that provides close control of the acoustic sensor as well as real-time leak detection. Because the tool is tethered to the surface, the operator can closely locate and confirm suspected leaks by winching the sensor back and forth.

Both technologies locate leaks using an acoustic sensor that identifies the unique sound of water leaking from the pipeline and are effective on any pipe material.

With over 2,000 miles of large-diameter pipelines inspected, Pure Technologies has located more than 4,000 leaks for an average of 2.2 leaks per mile using advanced inline leak detection technologies. Locating these large-diameter leaks has significantly reduced NRW, saved millions of gallons of water and helped prevent failures for utilities across North America.


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Pipeline leak detection systems

Pipeline Leak Detection Systems

Highly accurate inline leak detection systems that can detect leaks and gas pockets in operational pipelines. These systems are used primarily on larger diameter water and wastewater transmission mains of all materials as well as oil & gas pipelines.

Non-Revenue Water (NRW)

Non-Revenue Water (NRW)

Each day, billions of gallons of water are lost worldwide. Not only does this represent the loss of a precious resource that not everyone has access to; it represents a massive amount of lost revenue for the utilities that provide it.