In May 2015, the New Hampshire city of Dover noticed that somewhere within their water infrastructure was a massive leak – a leak losing millions of gallons of water per day. However, as of late June, the leak still hasn’t been located.
Dover Public Works is partnering with the state to try and find the elusive leak, with officials announcing that if it is not found soon, water restrictions may have to be put in place.
Water Online reports:
Officials said that almost one-third of the city’s water production is leaking away, presumably from a broken pipe, but despite state-of-the-art computer programs and listening devices on fire hydrants, the source of the leak hasn’t been found. The listening devices record in 15-minute increments starting at 2 a.m., when most people are asleep and the pipes should be quiet. If the sound of rushing water is recorded, it could lead investigators to a leaky pipe. Officials said 30 million gallons of water was lost in May. The city uses groundwater collected at eight pump houses and then sent to a treatment center before being piped into homes and businesses.
“Usually water leaks are clearly visible because it pops up out of the ground or in the middle of the street, and we just haven’t seen that,” Joyal said, per a news report. “It’s hiding somewhere, but we will find it.” It’s possible that the leak is occurring “underneath a stream or river, making it harder for crews to find,” Seacoast reported.
Aging infrastructure is dating back to the 1800s in this area, and is partly to blame for the difficulty in finding the leak.
Inframanage.com notes that water leaks can become an ongoing problem in aging water infrastructure. The analysis of repair and consumer disruption cost versus pipe replacement cost is an important component of managing water pipelines as their end of life approaches.
Through the modeling work that has been completed in New Zealand, we have come to understand that this accelerated failure inflection point is where the optimal decision-making opportunities are – i.e. before large amounts of expenditure are committed to leaks and other short-term repairs in a very old pipe.
PHOTO CREDIT: Kimberly Vardeman via Flickr Creative Commons License.