New Jersey American Water uses new acoustic technology to detect water leaks

CHERRY HILL, NJ, July 21, 2009 -- Using new technology to listen for clues in its pipes, New Jersey American Water is able to determine where significant problems could arise in its water system, sometimes before the breaks occur...

CHERRY HILL, NJ, July 21, 2009 -- Water running down a street is often, unfortunately, one of the first signs an underground water main is leaking and the water has reached the surface. But now, using new technology to listen for clues in its pipes, New Jersey American Water is able to determine where significant problems could arise in its water system, sometimes before the breaks occur. The result is saving millions of gallons of water.

The new technology uses the Internet to continuously transmit data from permanent acoustic monitors that aid in proactive leak detection. New Jersey American Water technicians equipped with additional electronic devices, use computer software to processes the digital signals and analyze the sound, and time of travel of the sound generated by a leak to accurately calculate its location.

In February, a system control room operator noticed that the average daily flow of water servicing a section of Bridgewater, NJ, had jumped from about 550,000 gallons per day to more than 840,000 gallons per day. Using the new acoustic leak detection technology, New Jersey technicians found seven water main breaks. Repairs were made and the average daily flow of water went back to normal.

In May, a more extensive acoustic study of the Bridgewater area found that a series of larger leaks were contributing to what New Jersey American thought was the average output of water needed to serve its customers in the area. Since the leaks were repaired, the impact has been dramatic. In May, the average daily flow of water has been reduced 250,000 gallons per day. Data in June demonstrated an even greater reduction in water flow. The new detection technology will prevent the loss of more than 200 million gallons of water per year.

Finding leaks before they, in some cases, become full-fledged main breaks helps New Jersey American Water continue to provide reliable water service to its customers, shorten infrastructure repair time and avoid the property damage and traffic disruptions that sometimes occur as a result. Additionally, the accuracy of the technology allows work crews to be less invasive while excavating streets to repair the leaks and limit the amount of restoration required.

New Jersey American Water, a wholly owned subsidiary of American Water, is the largest investor-owned water utility in the state, providing high-quality and reliable water and/or wastewater services to approximately 2.5 million people.

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