Capital Region Water taps smart city solutions

Capital Region Water of Harrisburg, which manages the water distribution system for the City of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and surrounding areas, announced the results of its work with 540 Technologies, an environmental and data solutions provider, to reduce water loss and optimize system efficiency.

With 228 miles of water mains, Capital Region Water manages Harrisburg’s distribution system, which includes a 600-acre reservoir that serves as the primary source of drinking water for more than 60,000 people. Before reaching more than 20,000 taps and nearly 1,800 hydrants, water from the reservoir travels through 23 miles of underground pipes to a treatment center and is then pumped to one of four smaller reservoirs. From there, the water is gravity-fed through a network of an additional 200 miles of pipes to the authority’s residential and commercial customers in Harrisburg and parts of Susquehanna Township, Penbrook Borough and Lower Paxton Township.

In 2015, city officials were concerned when a review of the prior year’s data showed that Capital Region Water was withdrawing nearly 10 million gallons of water a day to serve its customers, but 43 percent of the authority’s finished, treated water never reached an end user.

Although a small portion of water loss could be attributed to metering inaccuracies, the majority resulted from leaks in Capital Region Water’s aging underground distribution network.

To help find the leaks, Capital Region Water officials contacted LB Water Service, Inc., which in 2017 spun 540 Technologies as a new, affiliated company to focus on leak-detection and other environmental and data solutions.

Providing extensive customer support and training as well as products, 540 Technologies partners with leading-edge technology providers in a variety of sectors to bring its customers the most effective technology solutions for their specific applications. In this case, the partner was Fluid Conservation Systems, a leading manufacturer of leak-detection and water loss management equipment.

“We conducted a thorough review of Capital Region Water’s distribution system to assess the situation and determine an effective solution to the authority’s water loss,” said John Brutz, general manager of 540 Technologies. “We recommended that Capital Region Water install a combination of FCS’s Permalog+ data loggers to detect the leaks and TriCorr Touch correlators to pinpoint their locations.”

The battery-operated data loggers attach magnetically to pipe fittings and can be deployed in several ways, including a “lift-and-shift” arrangement that allowed Capital Region Water to gather data on its entire network in a more cost-effective manner. The loggers transmit data manually, by radio signals to a passing vehicle or over a wireless network to an office computer or FCS’s data-hosting cloud. Armed with data from the loggers, the team then used the correlators to pinpoint the leaks.

During three sweeps of Capital Region Water’s network from January 2015 through December 2017, and covering 702 monitoring points, data loggers identified 127 underground leaks the authority otherwise would not have found. Because the technology pinpoints leaks within 12 inches, the authority was able to dig smaller holes, address leaks more directly and reduce disruption to customers during the pipe repair and replacement process.

Before working with 540 Technologies, Capital Region Water was withdrawing nearly 10 million gallons of raw water daily to meet customer demands. However, by finding and fixing the leaks, the authority was able to reduce its daily withdrawal of raw water by 19 percent, lessening its impact on the environment.

Also, before working with 540 Technologies, the authority was losing more than 3.6 million gallons per day in lost treated water. After repairing the leaks, Capital Region’s treated water loss had decreased from 43 percent to 26.3 percent, a reduction of 16.7 percent. The utility has now used the technology to locate 118 underground leaks in a 20-month period and save 2 million gallons of treated water daily.

540 Technologies is working with Capital Region Water to fine-tune the authority’s leak-detection process so that its metered water loss will meet or exceed the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection guideline of no more than 20 percent metered-water loss vs. raw-water withdrawals. The next step in the process will involve pipeline assessments to help Capital Region Water plan for future capital improvements to its aging distribution infrastructure.

For more information about environmental and data solutions available through 540 Technologies, visit 540technologies.com.

540 Technologies is an environmental and data solutions provider that works with cities, counties, municipalities, private water and sewer authorities, colleges and universities, civil engineering firms, amusement parks, resorts and property management companies to help them become more efficient, cost effective and environmentally responsible. 540 Technologies focuses on issues involving water-loss management, wastewater metering and monitoring, smart lighting, smart electric metering, and data acquisition and management. As an affiliate of LB Water, it is a 100-percent employee-owned organization.

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