MAYOR TOM HENRYIn the wake of a challenging economy, we are continuously looking for ways to serve our citizens more effectively and efficiently. This requires us to find more innovative ways to maintain our infrastructure. One way we do this is by using technology to assist us with any number of things, including infrastructure repair to our water system.

Residents in Waynedale and the rest of the southwest quadrant of the city will soon see a contractor circulating through neighborhoods listening to water lines – yes, I do mean listening. You may have noticed since August 6, M.E. Simpson Company employees began using listening devices attached to fire hydrants or water main valves to find leaks in City owned water pipes. This technology detects sounds that assist in indicating and pinpointing leaks in our water mains. This knowledge helps City Utilities take proactive steps to determine where undetected small leaks that could lead to water main breaks and, in some cases, will alert crews of the need to make repairs before a break happens.

For about 40 days, crews will be working in the section of the city that lies south of Washington Center Road and west of the St. Joseph and St. Mary’s Rivers to perform the leak survey. They will be attaching devices to fire hydrants and wearing earphones to listen for sounds that indicate a leak. We’ve found that the leaks detected in this way are not large enough to be detected on the surface, but still can leak a significant quantity of water.

During the study period, employees of M.E. Simpson Company will be working in two-person teams and will be driving vehicles with the company name and logo. The contractor will not be asking for access to anyone’s home. Much of their work will be done during evening hours and at night because traffic and noise volumes are lower — which makes it easier for the contractor to hear the troublesome sounds.

This month’s study represents the third phase, of a four-phased study City Utilities began two years ago. In 2010, the study focused on the southeast quadrant of our city and found 34 leaks that were causing our system to lose an estimated 263,000 gallons of water per day. In 2011, the study focused on the northeast quadrant and found 23 leaks, causing a loss of 49,000 gallons of water per day. In 2013, the study will be conducted in the northwest quadrant of our city.

The number of small leaks detected is one of several criteria City Utilities uses to prioritize water mains for repair or replacement. Identifying and repairing leaks is one more way City Utilities helps ensure that we are protecting our water resources. City Utilities shares water monitoring and water saving data with the State of Indiana and is part of the on-going task to help protect the State’s valuable water resources.

Conducting a comprehensive survey of every single pipe, allows us to proactively identify – and address — problem areas more efficiently. It’s an important part of the ongoing maintenance of our infrastructure that can save use money and improve reliability of our water system.