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How Leak Detection Develops into Asset Management

If all you are receiving from your leak-detection program is the location and perhaps quantification of leaks, then you are leaving a significant opportunity untapped. The mobilization of field staff represents the largest cost component of a leak detection program.   If they are not providing as much data as possible, you are not maximizing your investment.

Equipped with geographic information system (GIS) software on a mobile device, field crews can document and transmit data not only on leaks found but also on other system conditions. Crews can help update GIS system mapping by documenting discrepancies between the existing GIS mapping and actual field conditions. This includes documenting the location of discovered assets that weren’t on system maps or included in the GIS database.

Perhaps more importantly, crews can determine the “as-is” condition of assets and capture observations, such as meter pits, missing lids or valves that can’t be located or accessed. In some instances, meters are found to be altogether removed and replaced with straight-pipe plumbing, which in many cases is poorly installed and leaking, compounding non-revenue losses. Of course, leak details such as precise locations, loss-rate estimates and digital photographs are of paramount interest and need to be thoroughly documented.

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Leak detection is a necessary step to reduce losses and prevent water main breaks. The benefits of leak detection are obvious in increased revenues, lower risk from contamination, lower liability due to a reduction of main breaks, and increased public trust.

A well-developed leak-detection program that also includes asset data capture and integration can provide much more ongoing value. By providing sound, accurate and verified data on asset conditions and accessibility, the data captured can update and correct a utility’s GIS system and support foundational asset management objectives.

Leak detection can be cost effective as well by providing real-time, transparent and immediate data that can be used for developing shovel-ready repair plans. With proper data capture, utilities can gain assistance in prioritizing system work, acquiring critical information for valve sequencing, expediting repairs and maintenance, and issuing and tracking work orders more efficiently.

In an age when every drop of water — and every dollar — counts, a utility simply can’t afford not to take advantage of the added value provided by new mobile GIS technologies. By integrating comprehensive data capture into the leak-detection workflow, a leak-detection program can serve as a very effective gateway to full asset management.

To learn more about how our asset management solutions can benefit your utility – call us today at 800-525-5821; info@wachsws.com

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