Leaks waste both money and a precious natural resource, can cause significant property damage if not located and repaired, and can create a public health risk. A leak detection program is a vital element of an efficiently operated water distribution system.
The City of Wadsworth is very active in searching for and repairing leaks in both main lines and services. The system has more than 100 miles of water main and experiences, on the average, 30 to 50 water main breaks a year. The City also has approximately 8,500 water services of various sizes that require constant monitoring for leakage.
Some leaks show up on the surface of the ground and are called in by residents. Others can find their way into nearby storm or sanitary sewers and would not be found without monitoring.
The City uses sensitive listening equipment attached to fire hydrants, water services and main line valves to conduct leak detection surveys. This equipment allows the operator to detect the sound or vibration induced by the water leaking from a pressurized pipe.
Every system operator has a goal of zero percent unaccounted-for water. A system that loses 15 percent or less of its finished water is considered to be a good system, and we strive continually to achieve that. Water loss can be attributed to main breaks, service leaks, theft, slow meters, fire fighting and annual hydrant flushing.
The only way a water provider will know how much water is unaccounted for is to conduct a water audit. A water audit compares the amount of water being pumped into the system with the amount that is being billed by the utility, and we do this every year. Lost water equals lost revenues.
Water main leak
Leak correlator. The peak on the graph is showing location of a water leak.
A utility worker using listening equipment to survey a water system for potential leaks.