Leak Detection Reduces Water Loss

Leaking water pipes can be an expensive waste of water. The City of San Marcos addresses this issue every year by conducting a leak detection survey.
Since San Marcos started the annual leak-detection program in the late 1990s, the City has reduced the water system’s unaccounted for water loss from more than 36% in 1997 to 11% in 2009.

“Especially during a drought, water loss becomes an important issue,” said Tom Taggart, Director of Public Services. “We try to stay ahead of the game by constantly seeking out new ways to improve and maintain the integrity of the distribution system. This keeps the cost to the consumer down in the long run and prevents worse problems from occurring.” For the past eight years, San Marcos has enlisted the help of Samco Leak Detection Services of Austin to help reduce the amount of water disappearing through underground leaks.

This year’s leak detection survey was conducted along 75 miles of water mains, about a fourth of the distribution system in San Marcos, over a three week period in late August and early September. The team discovered 58 leaks, ranging from 24-inch mains to 3/8 inch lines on the system.
Using high-tech acoustic equipment, technicians actually listen for leaks as they monitor the water lines. Once a leak is detected and pinpointed, it is plotted on a map with a GPS coordinate so that repair crews can address according to its magnitude and impact.

Water Distribution Manager Tony Salinas and his crews tackle the leaks in priority order. One of the worst leaks was found along the railroad tracks in a remote area between Wonder World Drive and McCarty Lane where a 12 inch line was leaking inside a concrete vault. Inspectors had to hike into the site to find the line. Another problem was a leaking 12-inch main in a neighborhood. Initially the leak was not visible on the surface and it took Public Services Water Distribution crews some 18 hours to make the repairs, from 8 a.m. until 2 a.m. The leak detection survey covers a fourth of the City’s 300 miles of water mains each year.
“What really makes the biggest difference over time is when a city has the foresight to systematically monitor for leaks and make repairs on an on-going basis,” says Sam Godfrey, President of Samco Leak Detection Services.

City of San Marcos NEWS
630 E. Hopkins
San Marcos, Texas 78666
September 22, 2009
For Immediate Release
Contact: Sam Godfrey, SAMCO Leak Detection, 512.751.5325
Contact: Melissa Millecam, Communications/ Intergovernmental Relations Director
512.393.8105 mmillecam@sanmarcostx.gov

Horseshoe Bay – Technology in the Water System

SAMCO, a Leak Detection/GPS Services Company, has been hired by the City of Horseshoe Bay to conduct a Leak Detection Survey and perform GPS Services within the Horseshoe Bay city limits.  The employees of SAMCO will be wearing orange vests and driving SAMCO trucks. They will commence their activities on June 23rd, and will start in the area of High Circle West and Highway 2147 (and eventually continue through the entire Horseshoe Bay community).

Employees of SAMCO will be utilizing sophisticated equipment to listen on water meters, valves, fire hydrants, and on the ground surface to determine if an underground water leak is present. The electronic leak detection equipment receives and processes unique leak sounds (water escaping the pipe).  Benefits of Leak Detection and Repair include:  conservation of valuable water resources, cost-savings through reduction of treated water that is lost to leaks, reduced property damage from decreased water main breaks, and reduced risk of the leak process contaminating the water system.

In addition to Leak Detection, SAMCO employees will also be using GPS devices to accurately locate and identify valves and fire hydrants, so that these water system appurtenances may be readily located under emergency conditions.  GPS – Global Positioning System – uses satellites and GPS (ground) receivers to identify locations on the surface of the earth, and this electronic data is then transferred to the city’s GIS (Geographic Information System); i.e., hardware and software used for electronic mapping of water and wastewater systems.  These valve and hydrant locations can be easily retrieved from the city’s GIS, instead of attempting to rely on the knowledge of a city employee that retired last year.

In Fiscal Year 2008, the City of Horseshoe Bay Mayor and City Council approved the Leak Detection / GPS Services contract with SAMCO, with the goal of completing this project (evaluation of entire water system) over the next two – three years.  Subsequently, the City of Horseshoe Bay continues to be a leader in utilizing technology to solve problems, enhance efficiency, and maintain cost-effectiveness for its Residents.