Satellite-based leak detection is a critical tool for building resource and infrastructure resilience after natural disasters. This includes sustainable infrastructure maintenance and a potable water supply program for a geographic region. When Hurricane Dorian ravaged the Bahamas in 2019, Grand Bahama Utility Company (GBUC), together with IsraAID, chose to employ ASTERRA’s Recover product to use data from space to make their recovery efforts more efficient and sustainable.
Hurricane Dorian left over 70,000 people homeless and few areas with running water or electric power on Grand Bahama Island. The hurricane raised the sea level by six meters (almost 20 feet), leaving 60% of the island surface covered by ocean water and destroying the entire vertical infrastructure of Grand Bahama Island, including pumping stations, utility poles, wires, electrical components, and control and motoring systems. An article detailing this recovery project can be found here.
To create a reliable water supply for the population, GBUC initiated a plan to desalinate the water using reverse osmosis (RO), but this significantly increased their costs. Further, when surveys showed that 40% of the desalinated water was leaking back to ground water through unknown cracks, holes, and ruptures, ASTERRA (formerly Utilis) was engaged to reduce this waste in water and energy. ASTERRA used their Recover SAR satellite-based leak detection technology product to locate leaks so they could be repaired and stop wasting water created by desalination. This was a critical part of the plan’s success and improved the overall sustainability of the program.
Recover was able to identify over three times more leaks every day in Grand Bahama than historically used detection methods. The project provided long-term savings of money, time and water and ensured financial sustainability of the new desalination plant on Grand Bahama. Over 60 leaks, most of which were non-surfacing (and therefore would not have been discovered for up to a year later), were found in the pipeline network using the technology, demonstrating a threefold increase in field crew efficiency using satellite-based detection.
The use of Recover helps make drinking water affordable for Grand Bahama residents in the wake of Hurricane Dorian. It also bolsters all efforts to build an infrastructure that is more resilient in the face of future natural disasters. This project directly contributes to three United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: Goal 6 (smart water management), goal 9 (infrastructure resiliency), and goal 13 (climate change mitigation). ASTERRA technology made monitoring and detecting treated water underground affordable and allowed for the feasibility of the critical desalination project.
Using figures provided by the American Water Works Association, on average, the use of Recover satellite-based leak detection technology saves over 220 million gallons of water per year. In turn, this is estimated to reduce CO2 emissions by an estimated 141.6 metric tons per year.
Recovery efforts in a small country like Grand Bahama Island also support resource resilience across the globe.