Tennessee Utility Saves Thousands With Enhanced Leak Detection

The White House Utility District, located about 30 miles from Nashville, collaborated with OSIsoft to install better leak detection and enhanced software recently to very good effect. Using the new system, a number of leaks were identified which were costing several hundred thousand dollars a year, so they were repaired.

Pat Harrell from the utility answered some questions for CleanTechies. 
Why did you investigate the use of new technology for your water management?
We wanted to develop a GIS-centric means for managing progress and day-to-day operations in our non-revenue water reduction efforts. Existing technology and infrastructure would not meet our needs. 

What were the basic new components you acquired and how did you set them up into a functioning system?

New insertion-style, battery-operated, GPRS-enabled magnetic flow meters were evaluated/selected to provide metering solutions for District Metered Areas.  GIS solutions from Esri were evaluated and WHUD’s team worked with Esri to develop a suite of new GIS tools that would meet WHUD’s needs and also benefit the industry.  WHUD also acquired new acoustic leak detectors and worked with Esri to develop GIS solutions to manage workflow and data obtained from these devices.

How long after set up was it that you had new data to analyze, and how did you pinpoint the biggest problems to solve?

The set up was phased in.  We installed approximately 26 DMA meters in the first phase of the project and had actionable data within three days of installation.  We installed approximately 40 additional sites a year later in the second phase of the project – with actionable data available one week after installation was complete.  We pinpointed the biggest problems to solve by reviewing flow data that indicated the areas of the highest degree of leakage. 

What were some of the biggest lessons you learned from the whole process of recognizing the need for new technology, talking to vendors, selecting one, installing the system, getting it operational and then utilizing it?

We learned a lot of lessons about types of available flow meters; features; installation requirements; communication protocols; accuracy ratings; related software; and how we could better use GIS in the process.  We also learned some surprising facts that were different from our understanding of how our piping system is connected.  We found some valves we thought were normally closed, but turned out to be open.  We also found some pipes that were normally open, but that need to be closed. 

Have you shared your results with local utilities in your area, or are they aware of what you accomplished?
Yes.  We have shared through professional events and presentations in GIS forums.  We have also answered several calls and had visits from neighboring utilities that were considering similar technology.

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