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SmartBall Technology - 28 August 2012

SmartBall play helps detect leaks in Alice Springs’ water pipes

 Some 30km of Alice Springs’ water mains are being inspected for leaks this week using innovative patented SmartBall technology.

You won’t hear it and you won’t see it – you won’t even know it’s there. A tiny six-centimeter diameter ball will swim freely inside the pipes that carry Alice Springs’ water supply, detecting leaks along the way.

It is part of the Alice Water Smart Reticulation project and the first time the SmartBall technology will be used in the town.

Power and Water Corporation, which manages the Alice Water Smart Reticulation project, has brought the technology to Alice Springs to help identify leaks in the pipe network.

Les Seddon, Power and Water’s Project Manager with Alice Water Smart says the normal program of leak detection has saved more than 300 million litres of water so far, the equivalent of 120 Olympic sized swimming pools, since Alice Water Smart was launched a year ago.

“The use of SmartBall technology will allow us to fast-track our existing leak detection plan,” he said.

“Alice Springs residents are already working hard to save water in their homes and businesses with water efficiency consultations through Alice Water Smart.

“We are also making sure the town’s water infrastructure is as leak-free as possible.”

The SmartBall is an aluminum core wrapped in a foam ball. The core contains an acoustic sensor, tracking equipment, circuitry and batteries.

It can roll through a water pipe for up to 20km obtaining a high quality recording of the acoustic activity in the pipe. When the SmartBall passes a leak there is a change in the sound.

The device sends out ultrasonic pulses and has a GPS tracking receiver, so technicians above ground can track its position.

“With the SmartBall technology we are able to locate a leak with greater accuracy,” Mr Seddon said.

“This saves us a lot of time by tracking evidence of leaks to where they actually are”.

“Sometimes when a leak becomes evident, with water on the surface or a noticeably greener patch of grass, it can be quite a distance from where the leak in the pipe is, depending on ground conditions.”

Reporting of leaks by the community is important and helps ensure prompt responses. If you see evidence of a water leak, contact Power and Water on 1800 245 092.