Water Loss Management

Infrastructure continues to be a critical issue impacting the economy, our society, security and the future on both a local and national level. New Jersey American Water recognizes the toll that aging infrastructure is taking on our own systems. We invest approximately $350 million annually — nearly $1 million a day — to improve service reliability, water quality and flows for fire protection.

In 2017 alone, we replaced and rehabilitated more than 75 miles of aging pipe; installed more than 20 miles of new main to serve additional areas; and replaced over 10,000 service lines, 700 fire hydrants and 11,000 valves.

Other investments include improvements to five water treatment facilities; and replacement and/or upgrades to dozens of wells, pumping stations, booster and lift stations and other critical water and wastewater facilities.

“New Jersey American Water successfully owns, operates and maintains approximately 8,900 miles of water infrastructure and wastewater pipes in 191 communities. We can’t afford to jeopardize our customers’ quality of life by allowing our communities’ infrastructure to fall into disrepair. From replacing water mains, pipelines and hydrants, and the installation of advanced metering technology to help reduce water leaks, to enhanced treatment capabilities improving efficiency and reliability, the investments we make into our systems ensure that we continue to meet customer needs in the communities that rely on us.” Deborah Degillio, President, New Jersey American Water

THE IMPORTANCE OF DETECTING LEAKS

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Even the smallest leak in a water system can cause the loss of thousands of gallons of water each month.

New Jersey American Water is fully committed to finding and fixing leaks, both in our customers’ homes and throughout our systems. 

The quicker we can identify and pinpoint the source of a leak, the faster it can be fixed. To find and address leaks quickly and efficiently, New Jersey American Water relies on innovative leak detection technology to enhance its monitoring and early detection efforts.

HOW DO WE PRIORITIZE MAINTENANCE & REPAIR?

With nearly 9,000 miles of water main, many factors contribute to engineer and operator decisions on when to upgrade pipes and facilities.

Our engineers use a sophisticated computer model that first assesses and then fairly “ranks” mains based on more than a dozen variables, in order to help them efficiently make informed decisions.

Our Geographic Information System (GIS) team, continually performs this analysis on all water mains, and, in turn, provides our engineers and operators with interactive maps available within an online project planning tool. These maps provide the engineers and operators with vital data that can be used to efficiently apply their professional expertise as needed.

TECHNOLOGY TO DETECT LEAKS FASTER

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Since 2016, our operations and engineering teams are using EchoShoreDX®, an acoustic monitoring technology from Echologics, to help find and fix leaks before they lead to main breaks, prioritize repairs and, ultimately, reduce water loss.

This acoustic technology can be used in the field in a non-invasive way, helping our teams locate leaks with exceptional accuracy without having to unearth the ground or insert tools into the water system.

Echologics’ leak detection technology incorporates the latest generation of acoustic sensors. The sensors are built into a standard fire hydrant cap and are capable of identifying extremely faint acoustical noises emitted by leaks before they become detectable by conventional methods. The technology’s early detection enables our teams to prioritize repairs based on actual need and the most effective allocation of repair crews.


IMPLEMENTATION

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Initially, New Jersey American Water selected five specific water networks – Belvidere, Irvington, New Egypt, Washington and Frenchtown – throughout the state to test and implement this technology. The selection of these networks were based on environmental, economic and social project drivers. Installation of the leak detection technology was completed in March 2016. 

RESULTS

Since implementation, New Jersey American Water has gathered two full years of data to analyze the effectiveness, efficiency and savings this technology has brought to our overall operations. The results speak for themselves:

  • In the first 18 months of implementation, Echologics’ DX technology enabled New Jersey American Water to identify and repair 118 active leaks, with total recovery of more than 1,995 GPM in water loss (2.9 million gallons per day or 525.6 million gallons per year).
  • OPEX savings of up to $1.9 million in the first two years of using this technology.
  • Average water loss percentage is down to 17% - compared to statewide averages of 25-30%.
  • It is estimated that 1.7 million gallons of water is saved per day from utilization of the leak detection technology.
  • Leaks detected by our monitoring system has saved more than 1.1 billion gallons of water from being treated, pumped and then leaked out into the environment.
  • The amount of leakage identified (and subsequently repaired) by New Jersey American Water’s monitoring system could serve a small community of 30,427 people for a year (based on a typical American Water consumption rate of 100 gallons per day, per person).
  • Based on the average embedded carbon dioxide greenhouse gases for electrical generation in New Jersey, New Jersey American Water’s leakage reduction also reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 900,055 kg of carbon dioxide. (Administration, 2016) – that is equivalent of taking 170 cars off the road for a year.
  • An estimated 3,307,989 kWh of electrical energy is projected to have saved by detecting the leaks early and avoiding pumping and treating 1.1 billion gallons of leaked water. (Racoviceanu, 2007)

FIRST LOCATE, THEN FIX OR REPLACE

Once a leak is detected, New Jersey American Water will either repair or replace water pipelines that have reached the end of their useful life.

More than 800 New Jersey American Water employees, including distribution and field service personnel, plant operators and engineers, work hard to carry out our foremost responsibility – to provide high-quality, reliable water and wastewater service to our customers around the clock.

Replacing aging pipelines and upgrading treatment and distribution facilities is also included in the $350 million in annual investments New Jersey American Water makes to ensure customer enjoys clean, safe, reliable water service.

LONG TERM IMPACTS – INNOVATION FOR A BRIGHTER FUTURE

Leak monitoring technology for water utilities is now entering a rapid growth phase. There were approximately 2,800 installed leak monitoring units globally at the end of 2017, 4,500 total to be installed units by the end of 2018 – and the number of installed units is projected to double again in the subsequent two years.

New Jersey American Water’s flagship leak monitoring projects were the first commercial scale installed system in the nation. In many ways, we provided a template to scale leak monitoring technology for other water pipe networks in other states. Our partnership and consultation led to technology being developed that was then ready for use across the United States, including in Silicon Valley.

“By integrating technology into water infrastructure and monitoring distribution mains on a continuous basis, New Jersey American Water is leveraging technology and data, which can help them better manage their assets more efficiently and improve customer service.” Marc Bracken, Vice President and General Manager, Echologics

New Jersey American Water will continue our efforts to find new, innovative ways to maintain and repair our infrastructure – allowing us to efficiently and effectively deliver quality water to our customers.