These Breakthrough Technologies Reveal Hidden Pipe Defects

Two trillion gallons.

Researchers estimate that’s the amount of water that leaks out of U.S. water main pipes each year. The good news: With modern technology, we can now more easily and accurately assess the integrity of our water and sewer infrastructure using low-voltage electrical currents and acoustic sound waves.

Watch the videos below to see for yourself how these new technologies are helping two cities identify and prioritize their infrastructure projects without the need for open-pit construction, no interruptions to water or sewer customers, and minimal disruptions to traffic in and around the inspection site.

Identify sewer inflow and infiltration (I/I) using electricity

I/I issues can cause a host of problems including sewer backups, wastewater treatment inefficiencies and interruptions to redevelopment efforts. Thankfully, we know that a sewer pipe that leaks water will also leak electricity. By sending a safe, low-voltage electrical current through a non-metal pipe (water or sewer pipes made of brick, cement, concrete, plastic or pipe-lining resins), cities are able to identify and measure the variations in electricity that pass through pipe defects.

The City of Golden Valley, Minnesota, is using low-voltage electricity to help locate and quantify cracks, fractures and defective pipe joints in the city’s sewer system.

Assess your water main using sound waves

At a local level, community leaders work tirelessly to locate water main leaks and prioritize the repair or replacement of this vital infrastructure. Acoustic technology helps these communities accurately assess the integrity of their pipe networks. This is because an acoustic signal travels faster down a pipe with a thicker wall, so slower acoustic velocities are an indicator of reductions or defects in a pipe wall’s structural integrity.

The City of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, is using acoustics to measure water main pipe integrity, and to help prioritize water main repair and replacement projects.

About the Author

Paul J. Pasko III

Paul Pasko, PE is an SEH Project Manager with experience on a variety of municipal infrastructure and civil engineering projects. Paul is often called upon to help communities assess the structural integrity of their water main networks and sewer systems. Contact Paul

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