The NSW Smart Sensing Network is leading a novel project combining the resources of five research universities with water companies from around Australia to apply emerging technologies to proactively identify leaks and potential failures in water supply networks.
Smart sensing is being proposed as the key solution for detecting problems underground, particularly in ageing pipe infrastructure. Any solution that can accurately predict and locate leaks and breaks in water mains while simultaneously minimising the need to dig and replace large tracts of pipe will ultimately lead to better service to customers, reduce water wastage, maintain supply continuity and reduce service costs for water utilities.
The $3 million project is being funded by Sydney Water, Hunter Water, SA Water, Melbourne Water, Intelligent Water Networks (Victoria), Queensland Urban Utilities and the NSW state government.
The collaborative project draws on the research strengths of UTS, UNSW and the University of Newcastle, as well as ANU in Canberra, to devise smart sensing technologies to address what is globally a multi-billion-dollar problem.
With over 22,000km of underground pipes across Sydney, ensuring the integrity of pipe infrastructure and preventing leakage in the system is a top priority for water utilities like Sydney Water.
According to Paul Higham, Head of Service Planning and Asset Strategy at Sydney Water, “This is a great opportunity for Sydney Water and the Australian utility partners to improve our services to our customers by being proactive with future smart utility networks.”
The programme incorporates four innovative projects covering areas like quantum sensing, acoustic sensing, pressure transient sensing and data analytics. It aims to build on world-leading research to deliver new insights, and aims to have new technologies in the ground in the near future.
The programme is already attracting interest from water utilities worldwide.