The water company Aigües de Vic serves the towns of Vic and Gurb, and the surrounding countryside area, in the Osona region of Catalonia in Spain. It is a location which includes both towns and a large rural area with a distributed population, and with many outlying farms and industries.
In common with many water companies which have to serve large rural areas as well as urban locations, Aigües de Vic has an extensive water trunk main system, much of which is in outlying areas, and is difficult to manage, particularly the aspect of leaks.
As an innovative and forward-thinking water company, Aigües de Vic was seeking a means to monitor for leaks in its extensive rural pipe network in order to minimise water loss, ensure long-term supply sustainability and to facilitate a fix-before-fail strategy to reduce operational costs and minimise service disruption associated with major bursts.
Typical current leak detection solutions were considered, but each had its respective disadvantages :
Fixed sensor systems (placed on valves, hydrants etc)
Transiting sensor systems (floating ball and similar)
Not real-time 24/7 365 leak detectors
Can only provide a snap-shot of an event as they pass by
Active service connections may cause false alerts
High cost for consultancy time required
High cost for install fittings needed
Aigües de Vic decided that they needed to find a better solution for real-time and accurate leak detection, and also were looking for ways to improve the security of their key assets and reservoirs.
As a part of its innovative approach, Aigües de Vic had already installed the CRALEY Group’s Atlantis Hydrotec system to deliver fibre-optic ultra-fast broadband throughout the rural parts of its pipe-line network. The fibre-optics delivery formed a key part of its enhanced internal connectivity and move towards SMART Water Networks, to provide high-speed communications for telemetry and control as well as remote asset CCTV security. It additionally formed a cornerstone of its social responsibility agenda, with the trunk fibre also being used to deliver Next Generation FTTH (fibre-to-the-home) throughout an area which previously had virtually no internet access at all, with rural homes and businesses now able to get up to 1Gbs internet connections.
This fibre-optic network deployed via the water trunk mains now encompasses some 15km of trunk network and around 90km of fibre delivered as distribution and end-user connectivity. And it continues to grow, with a further 15km of trunk fibre due for installation by the end of 2018, and many end-user FTTH connections being added every month.
The engineering staff at Aigües de Vic approached CRALEY Group to deploy the iSM system across the main water trunk route, using the already installed fibre-optic system as the Sensing Cable.
The iSM technology uses a single fibre from the installed fibre bundle as a Sensing Cable, and since it is deployed inside the water pipe it provides optimum acoustic coupling of sound and offers unrivalled sensitivity. iSM is fully passive, requiring just the Analyser system at one end and no other equipment or power along the pipe run.
iSM can provide detection over up to 40km of pipe run and the system treats the Sensing Cable as more than 12,000 individual ‘virtual’ sensors, so the location accuracy can be down to 3metres. Most importantly the system monitors 24/7/365 and alerts are generated within seconds of an event happening, with a simple to use map based format detailing the time of the event and its exact geographical location (latitude & longitude).
As well as providing true real-time leak alerts, the system can also be used to analyse and locate pre-existing leaks (with a ‘severity rating’, to determine how rapidly corrective action should be undertaken), and to identify service tap locations too which will allow illegal taps and water theft to be readily found. Depending on circumstance, iSM can detect leaks as small as 0.5 litres/minute.
iSM can additionally be used for third-party intrusion detection for protection of assets, since homeland security is becoming an increasing concern. This is achieved by splicing into the water pipe Sensing Cable and then running a Sensing Cable in the ground around buildings/reservoirs etc and along access tracks and roads, so that footfall and vehicle traffic can be detected and alerted.
Example of an iSM alert being generated on a map
“This remarkable new technology was a dramatic improvement over all of the existing technologies that we considered. It proved to be a simple addition to our existing Atlantis Hydrotec deployment, using just a single fibre from the deployed bundle as the Sensing Cable, and being passive it only needed equipment at one end of the run, significantly reducing cost and complexity.
We have been hugely impressed with the accuracy of results and the real-time generation of alerts. It has allowed us to map pre-existing leaks and implement an effective fix-before-fail strategy, which will provide long-term benefits in reducing our operational costs and minimising customer disruption for major burst repairs. Additionally we are now in the process of using data from the iSM system to identify illegal taps and water theft.
The third-party intrusion detection capability has provided an additional layer of security for us, helping protect our key assets and reservoirs from malicious damage and terrorism.”
Guillem Treserra, General Manager Aigües de Vic
Aigües de Vic has installed iSM over its 15km trunk water pipe and found the results to be spectacular, it is now being used for :
Accurate detection of leaks across many different sizes of pipes both plastic and metal.
Real-time alerts for instant notification, allowing appropriate action to be taken
Auditing their existing network for pre-exiting leaks, and detecting new leaks, allowing them to provide a true a ‘fix-before-fail’ strategy.
Protecting key company assets with TPi (third-party intrusion) detection. This includes Sensing Cable surrounding two critical reservoirs, that are isolated and remote and therefore are vulnerable to malicious attacks.
TPi being used to detect the footsteps of intruders, vehicle movement on access roads, as well as fence climbing/cutting and nearby digging activity.
Allowing identification active service connections to prevent illegal taps and water theft in the network.
“This deployment was a world first, and has fully proved the enormous advantage of a true in-pipe leak detection system with 24/7 365 real-time alerting of events. It has given Aigües de Vic the ability to manage their network in a way that has never been possible previously.
We believe that Water Companies around the world will gain significant benefits from this innovative new technology, as a key component of their SMART Water Network strategies.
It is a major step forward in reducing water losses from leaks and towards the goal of enhanced supply sustainability.
It also represents a notable contribution to the Green Agenda by reducing the large waste of power and unnecessary generation of greenhouse gases associated with water leaks.
In a world where there is an ever increasing concern regarding terrorism, and the vulnerability of water assets, then the third-party intrusion detection aspects also form a welcome addition to enhanced homeland security”
Andy Harris, CEO CRALEY Group
Summary of Benefits:
iSM™ can provide a number of highly significant advances over current technologies :
It uses a permanently installed in-pipe Sensing Cable
Since the Sensing Cable is inside of the pipe, the sensitivity is unparalleled
The system can create > 12,000 ‘virtual sensors’ along the run
Event location accuracy can be < 3 metres
Used for up to 40km protection in a single run
Optionally, two 40km runs (80km total) may be handled from a central unit
The Analyser Unit is place at only one end of the pipe run
It is totally passive, with no power or active equipment down the run length
It is independent of pipe material or pipe size
It easily differentiates between service connections and real leaks
It can identify pre-existing leaks, with a severity rating for repair scheduling
It can identify all current service connections locating illegal taps/water theft
It provides real-time 24/7 365 alerts for leak detection
Automatic alerts are generated within seconds of a new leak/event occurring
Depending on conditions, it can detect leaks down to 0.5litres/minute
Sensor Result Profiling allows identification of specific events at any point
An integrated system between leak detection and third-party intrusion (TPi)
TPi can include detection of footfall, vehicle traffic, fence climbing/cutting and digging (both manual and machine) and protect buildings/roads etc
CRALEY Group's suite of Integrated Solutions