Case Studies

ASTERRA Satellite Leak Detection Service: East China Water Utility

November 2, 2022| East China Region
East China Case Study

ASTERRA provided satellite SAR imaging of an area in East China in December 2021 to identify likely leak locations using their Recover product from the potable water system. A total of 308 points of interest (POI) were identified. Pursuant to the boots-on-the-ground (BOTG) field inspection of these POIs a total of 140 leaks were pinpointed.

One way to categorize leaks is by pipe size. 80% of the leaks found were on small pipe (≤100mm), 15% on medium size pipe (between 100mm and 500mm) and 5% on large pipe (<500mm). Six leaks were found on 600mm pipe and one leak on an 800mm pipe.

Out of the 140 leaks found in the East China region, 110, or 78%, were unreported or non-surfacing leaks. This is also very consistent with the Recover average of 60% non-surfacing leaks. These are leaks that would otherwise have not been located and thus contribute greatly to real water loss in a system. In this project, 25% of the leaks were found in valves, connections, meters and pipe joints while 75% of the leaks were found in hydrants, service lines and mains. This is also very consistent with the Recover leak location averages from the worldwide database. Of the 140 leaks pinpointed, 84, or 60% were found on iron pipe, 46, or 33%, on steel or concrete pipe, and 10, or 7%, were found on PVC, plastic or copper pipe.

It is not uncommon for more leaks to be acoustically pinpointed on metal pipe than on plastic pipe. Sounds travel less far and has a lower intensity in plastic pipe then in metal pipe, thus it is harder for BOTG staff to correlate leak locations.

The performance metrics show that using the ASTERRA Recover pre-location technology increases the leaks found per day and per mile, which increases the value proposition over the traditional method.

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