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Noisy Leaks

June 30, 2016

Listening to subterranean municipal plumbing to track down wasteful water leaks.



Listening for leaks. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Drinking water is becoming increasingly precious, but as much as 30% of it is lost to leaky underground pipes. Microphones installed in pipe cutoff valves can listen for leaks, but can’t pinpoint them. Now Concordia engineer Tarek Zayed reports in a paper for the American Society of Civil Engineers on a system that analyzes the sounds, and predicts leak locations to within 80 centimeters.

TAREK ZAYED (Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada):

Once there will be a leak recognized, then it will actually give you a location on a GIS for you to decide exactly that there is a leak in this area and then for you to go ahead and fix it.


He says in a recent test in the Middle Eastern city of Doha, Qatar, the system located leaks with an accuracy of 99.5%. But he says the technology still needs testing and refinement in a variety of locations and conditions. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon