Every drop of clean water is precious. Unfortunately, 30–50% of water is lost through aging infrastructure. And lost water equals lost revenue to the water service supplier. Water is lost through leaks and cracks in pipes and their fittings. Since most infrastructure is underground, it is virtually impossible to visually determine the location of these leaks unless the water has reached the surface (causing ponding and sink holes, structural damage, buckling pavement, etc.), and the exact location may be indeterminate. Leak detection requires special technologies that allow inspectors to precisely determine the location and severity of pipeline leaks. This is a field that continues to grow and advance by utilizing both established technology and by adopting emerging methods.
THE IMPORTANCE OF LEAK DETECTION
Water lost through leaks, waste, or simple theft is referred to as non-revenue water, in that it fails to provide revenue to the water supplier because it never reaches its customers. These can be physical losses of water escaping the system, or unaccounted-for water that is not measured due to faulty meters and meters that have been tampered with, poor accounting and bookkeeping, or as a result of human error when reading and recording the water system flow meters. Available and emerging technologies are designed to detect and prevent physical water losses. These will continue over time until they are detected. The accumulation of losses over long durations can result in significant losses even from insignificant leaks. And if water can get out, impurities (soil, bacteria, organics, etc.) can get in and impair the quality of the water, even rendering it unfit to drink.