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How Cities Can Conserve Water With Pipeline Leak Detection Technology

In spite of the fact that the earth is mostly covered by water, cities over the world are hard pressed to ensure their citizens have enough water at their disposal. In fact, demand for this precious resource has tripled over the last half-century and, thanks to the ever-increasing human population, this demand shows no signs of abating.

Fortunately, forward-thinking cities can take actions to mitigate water shortages while saving money at the same time.

Here is a streamlined action plan that smart cities can take to achieve this.

Reduce & Eliminate Water Leakage.

It might surprise you to learn that much of the strain on a city’s water supply is due to situations that are entirely preventable: water leakage. In truth, a number of the world’s most populated cities lose a significant amount of their daily supply to aging, crumbling infrastructure. London, for example, loses approximately 26% of its daily supply to leakage while Mexico City loses approximately 35%. Closer to home, nearly 500 km of Montreal’s pipelines are in dire need of repair. Until recently, water leakage could best be described as an unfortunate reality of operating a modern water system. With dozens if not hundreds of pipelines and water main ruptures occurring within a city’s limits each year, there is significant opportunity to increase conservation by leak prevention.

11 Cities Most Likely to Run Out of Drinking Water.

At the risk of belabouring the point, many of the world’s most populous cities are in danger of running out of clean drinking water in the not too distant future. This list of cities, which includes Moscow, Jakarta, Istanbul, Beijing, Tokyo, Bangalore, London, Mexico City, Cairo, São Paulo, and Miami feature more in common than being beacons for tourists; they also share the unenviable distinction of being among the growing number of metropolitan areas facing what’s come to be known as severe “water stress”.

Water stress can be attributed to many different factors and can include a rapid growth in population, drought, and pollution. Fractures and ruptures of existing infrastructure while preventable, can exacerbate an already dire situation. Identifying water stress indicators early on is essential to formulating a cohesive plan to proactively mitigate a shortage of the existing supply. Jurisdictions that can successfully identify water stress and take appropriate action are far less likely to see periods requiring severe water conservation efforts.

Use Leak Detection Solutions to Spot Leaks Sooner.

It goes without saying that an inefficient water delivery system can be directly correlated to its respective water supply. Every drop of water that escapes an underground pipeline not only reduces the amount of water that can be delivered, but it can also, over time, further compromise the infrastructure designed to deliver water from source to tap. Leaking water underground is especially difficult to accept because any water lost is essentially removed from the system, reducing an area’s overall water supply. Water that is not delivered cannot be consumed nor can it be recycled back into the system. The best way to mitigate this kind of loss is through proactive monitoring and maintenance. Traditionally, monitoring infrastructure integrity was decidedly difficult since the vast majority of equipment lay below ground. Fortunately, modern leak detection equipment and services can monitor these systems continuously.

Monitor & Restrict Water Supply and Distribution.

Implementing sophisticated sensor technology is just half the battle. Yes, sensors can detect leaks when water flow exceeds predetermined thresholds, allowing technicians to prioritize repairs, but much of the onus remains fixed on the individual. Smart cities place restrictions on water usage as a way to ensure that there is enough water for personal consumption as well as for agricultural and industrial needs. In short, this means incentivizing both businesses and consumers to be less wasteful as they draw upon the communal water supply.

Manage Demand and Minimize Leaks Early

In many cities around the world, demand is successfully being managed by the aforementioned restriction programs. But what good is it to attempt to manage the demand for water if the supply cannot be managed? Identifying and addressing leaks early helps to promote confidence within the general populace in their water supply and legitimizes water supply management initiatives. Even in the west, where innovation and technology are most widely applied, water loss can range from 20-50% of supply. In these cases, managing demand can only do so much.

Advanced Pipeline Leak Detection Technology.

Modern leak detection requires a significant investment in leak detection technology and services on behalf of cities but fortunately this cost can turn into a windfall of saved expenditures down the road. Identifying areas of weakness in a main or pipeline before the system fail through the use of wireless sensors and relays helps to ensure that repairs can be made early on at a greatly reduced cost. These sensors can also be used in the agricultural sector to determine the water content of the soil, whether the water is being absorbed by the earth and whether it should be diverted elsewhere. Individually, these sensors can monitor very specific areas of a water system, but the data they collect can be used to ensure the efficacy of the modern urban and rural water management system.

It likely doesn’t need to be said at this point that monitoring and managing water pipelines is an incredibly important task. Doing so not only saves water but money too; benefits that cannot be understated. If you’re looking for a company that specializes in water pipeline assessments, check out Echologics for more information.


Young Upstarts is a business and technology blog that champions new ideas, innovation and entrepreneurship. It focuses on highlighting young people and small businesses, celebrating their vision and role in changing the world with their ideas, products and services.

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