Atlanta to tap AI to detect water main breaks

Mayor Andre Dickens said the city plans to install new AI-enhanced devices on water line valves to detect breaks in its aging pipes.
water lid
(Getty Images)

The City of Atlanta plans to use artificial intelligence to address its aging water infrastructure, Mayor Andre Dickens announced in a press conference last Wednesday, less than a week after two water main breaks left businesses, medical facilities, concerts, sporting events, and residential neighborhoods under a boil-water advisory over the weekend, and forced a 72-hour state of emergency.

“We are currently coordinating with the US Army Corps of Engineers. We have sought their assistance because they have the most experience in handling a crisis like this,” Dickens said in a statement on June 3, by which time the Atlanta Department of Watershed Management lifted the boil-water advisory. “They will help us develop a plan to assess and evaluate our aging infrastructure.”

Dickens said the city will install AI-enhanced devices on water line valves at the sites of both the Midtown break, which was repaired last Wednesday, and the break at Boone Boulevard and Brawley Drive in Vine City, which was fixed June 1.

The mayor said Atlanta may also ask the federal government for money to help improve its water infrastructure, a number he said could total in the billions.


During the press conference, Dickens also announced the formation of a “blue ribbon” panel of experts on the city’s water infrastructure, including former Mayor Shirley Franklin and Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce CEO Katie Kirkpatrick.

Sophia Fox-Sowell

Written by Sophia Fox-Sowell

Sophia Fox-Sowell reports on artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and government regulation for StateScoop. She was previously a multimedia producer for CNET, where her coverage focused on private sector innovation in food production, climate change and space through podcasts and video content. She earned her bachelor’s in anthropology at Wagner College and master’s in media innovation from Northeastern University.

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