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Case Study

SIMAS Oeiras E Amadora (Portugal)

Intermunicipal Service Oeiras and Amadora is a water management company responsible for the distribution of drinking water for the municipalities of Amadora and Oeiras in the Lisbon region of Portugal. SIMAS Oeiras e Amadora distributes water to more than 350,000 customers who have come to rely on the public company for their water services.

Project Details

SmartBall leak detection inspection
Pipe Material
Ductile iron
Inspection Length
2781 meters (2.6 miles)
600mm (24-inch)
Transmission Type

Project Highlights

Total of 1.7 miles (2.78kms) of 5-year-old pipeline inspected

Inspection located one (1) leak 863 meters from insertion

Leak repaired and allowed SIMAS Oeiras e Amadora to recover costs associated with the loss of non-revenue water


The F. Passarinhos-Atalaia duct is a pressurized pipeline that supplies water to one of eight reservoirs operated by SIMAS Oeiras e Amadora in the municipality of Amadora. Installed in 2007, the large 600 mm (24-inch) transmission main, made from ductile iron material, delivers drinking water to approximately 31 percent of Amadora’s residents, making it a critical part of the municipality’s buried infrastructure.

In 2012, SIMAS Oeiras e Amadora detected a noticeable pressure drop in the system, indicating the possibility of a critical leak, the predecessor of a potential rupture that could negatively impact the environment and significantly disrupt day-to-day life in the community.

In addition to physical losses of water caused by a small leaks, the escaping non-revenue water can eventually erode the surrounding soil making the area more prone to washouts or sinkholes, a major headache especially in densely populated areas. Unplanned excavations to repair unforeseen leaks can also erode consumer confidence in a public utility.


When traditional leak detection methods—geophones and acoustic correlators­ were unable to detect the location and size of the leak, SIMAS Oeiras e Amadora called on its contractor to perform a leak detection survey using the innovative SmartBall tool from Pure Technologies (Pure).  Because of the criticality of the line, the survey was conducted while the pipeline remained in operation.

Pure’s patented SmartBall tool is an aluminum-core, foam-shell ball packed with several different sensors that can be launched into a water main without any disruption to client service.

Unlike traditional external listening tools that have limited success on large diameter pipes, SmartBall is the industry’s only free-flowing multi-sensor technology that provides the highest degree of accuracy, since as the ball rolls, it can inspect every inch of a water main to detect potential problems such as leaks and gas pockets. Its highly sensitive acoustic sensors can locate ‘pinhole’ leaks and gas pockets within a location accuracy of 1.8 meters.


The SmartBall was inserted into the pipeline through a 6” gate valve and the journey took two hours and 49 minutes. One small leak was detected, 863 meters from the insertion site. This leak was repaired and allowed SIMAS Oeiras e Amadora to recover costs associated the loss of non-revenue water, had it remained undetected.

Although the SmartBall tool detected just one leak, the inspection gave SIMAS Oeiras e Amadora the capacity to assess assets from inside the pipe rather than drawing conclusions from indirect, external clues. If leaks are discovered early, operators can take necessary action to makes repairs before they become a major problem.

This process allows progressive operators like SIMAS Oeiras e Amadora to develop a sustainable long-term strategy for managing their critical buried assets.