By: Susan Diegelman
The Second in a Series About Machine-to-Machine Technology and Water Management.
Lake Mead provides up to 90 percent of Las Vegas’ water and experts estimate that since 2000, an ongoing drought robbed the lake of 4 trillion gallons of water. With 584,000 residents and millions of tourists each year, the Las Vegas Valley Water District brought its distribution system into the 21st century; it had to. A fragile combination of groundwater, water reuse systems, and desalination and banking systems make meeting the daily water needs of Las Vegas possible. For Las Vegas, every drop counts.
As a progressive tech-adopter, the Las Vegas Valley Water District is participating in the NIST Global City Challenge to explore new ways to protect this precious resource. AT&T’s team accepted the challenge to implement a smart water management solution in the four mile stretch of pipes underneath the famous Las Vegas "strip."
By placing sensors at both ends of the pipes, then one every half-mile in the middle, acoustical algorithms are used to pin point where leaks may exist. Wireless broadband networks send data collected by the sensors to a dash board, where utility workers will monitor the real-time status of the pipes.
This solution provides a proactive means to manage the water supply, which allows utilities to transition from a reactive state of scrambling to repair large water main breaks. With continuous monitoring, utilities can identify leaks early instead of realizing there’s an issue once the full system is struggling and, quite possibly, suffering a catastrophic event.
Since pipes are buried underground, “out of sight, out of mind” has been the standard management method. When a pipe suffers a large enough leak to put a strain on the whole system, it is noticed. A repair crew is brought in to make the necessary repairs and move on to the next leaky pipe. Smart solutions are proactive and permanent solutions.
AT&T’s team is running similar tests in Atlanta and Los Angeles, two others cities deploying “smart” technology for water management. Equipment will be installed in the cities in the next few weeks then the data will, literally, start pouring in. Everyone is anxious to see what data is collected and how that data might be used to anticipate leaks in the system and save more water, one drop at a time.
Read the first blog post in this series on our NIST Challenge project.