Water main leaks can add up to a significant cost for municipalities when water is lost from the distribution system instead of reaching homes and businesses. The City of Dearborn Heights, MI, experienced a 10% increase in water loss in 2014 over past years. Monitored through the City of Detroit’s Water Automated Meter Reading (WAMR) system, nighttime water use rose from 1,000 gallons per minute (gpm) to 1,250 gpm. The City has launched a Water Leak Detection Program to identify suspected areas of leakage for further investigation.

Wade Trim is conducting the program, focusing on the northern portion of the City where breaks have historically occurred most frequently. Digital correlating loggers are installed on gate valves to record noises related to water leaking from the pipe during the night, when domestic water use is lowest. Data from the loggers is then downloaded and analyzed before the loggers are moved to new locations. Locations where leak noise has been detected are flagged for further investigation to determine if there is a leak or normal water use such as sprinklers. Progressing at a pace of 4,500 feet per day, the program’s initial results will be evaluated to determine if further leak detection will be conducted throughout the City’s 200 miles of water main.