Las Vegas tests wireless water main monitoring

The Las Vegas Valley Water District is testing a new wireless system using sensors and sound equipment to collect information on pipelines and the water that runs through them.

Meredith Somers
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Meredith Somers
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Las Vegas (Creative Commons)

Las Vegas is hoping it has hit the jackpot on a new water management monitoring system that officials say saves money and scarce resources.

The Las Vegas Valley Water District is testing the system as part of a $150,000 collaborative project that uses sensors and sound equipment to collect information on pipelines and the water that runs through them.

Charles Scott, manager of the water district’s asset management division, said the new monitoring system makes it easier to collect more consistent data, which “lengthens the time between ‘ah-ha’ and ‘oh no.’”

“Having this out in the field and being able to collect data consistently between two points practically at any time gives us some flexibility that way,” Scott said during an interview with StateScoop.

Las Vegas is one of three cities, along with Atlanta and Los Angeles, testing out the technology, which was provided by Echologics, a division of Atlanta-based Mueller Water Products. The sensors connect with a wireless network through AT&T and send water pressure and temperature data, as well as leak alerts to a water management center furnished by IBM, according to information provided by AT&T.

At this point only about 4 miles of the 4,000 miles of pipeline that make up the Las Vegas Valley Water District are being monitored with these sensors. But the area being watched is beneath the well-known Las Vegas Boulevard, which runs through the heart of the city. A new addition branches off Flamingo Road, Scott said, where a water main break in early May snarled traffic.

“Fortunately we haven’t had a big history of failures along those boulevards, but we also really don’t have a lot of intelligence about the condition of those pipes in the ground,” Scott said. “By putting these monitors in, we’re ... basically being able to monitor the pipe and detect small leaks and being able to make repairs to the pipe before they [get] to be large events.”

Las Vegas, Atlanta and Los Angeles are testing a pipeline monitoring system that uses sensors and wireless transmitters to detect water main leaks. (Courtesy of AT&T)

The Las Vegas system is relatively young, Scott said, with an average age of pipe at about 22 years old. Overall the system has about a 5 percent loss rate. Other water systems in the country are made of half-century-old infrastructure and rack up a 50 percent loss rate due to leakage.

The new monitors are the sort of innovation Nevada is championing through its Center of Excellence initiative, Scott said. Partnering with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the state is hoping to entice companies like Echologics to the southern Nevada area, Scott said, and grow “a Silicon Valley for water technology.”

 And while Las Vegas continues to hedge its bets on smart technology, officials are encouraging other cities to follow suit.

“Not every state or city is there yet, but they’re starting to think about it,” said Mobeen Khan, executive director for mobility marketing at AT&T. “As cities and states start to become more aware and engaged in creating these Centers of Excellence you will start to see more and more of these deployments.”

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States, Nevada, State & Local News, Innovation, Tech News, Mobility, AT&T, IoT, infrastructure, Echologics

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