CHICAGO -- More than 1,000 street bollards located throughout London, Kent, and Essex in the south-east of the United Kingdom are being used by Thames Water to locate leakages from the water mains supply pipes.
The fire-resistant bollards, which fit in unobtrusively with street equipment, contain a mass of high-technology equipment including telemetry equipment which relays messages from underground sensors to leakage monitoring computers. This provides the company's engineers with an accurate picture of water escaping from the mains network and enables repairs to be carried out quickly.
Electromagnetic sensors buried underground near pipes measure the pressure and flow rate of water. Connected by cable to the bollards, data is collected every 15 minutes on a small radio transmitter which communicates with a monitoring computer. Leakage analysts compare trends in the flow data from late at night and early in the morning when water demand is at a constant minimum.
Global Positioning System transmitters fitted next to the underground sensors allow repair teams to locate the leaking pipes. The sensors have replaced the more traditional mechanical meters which involved excavating pavements and roads to find them.
The system, which has been devised by Thames Water, is part of its 300 million pounds sterling investment programme designed to reduce leakages, enhance the environment, and protect water resources. Thames developed the radio data transfer technology in partnership with UK mobile telephone company Vodafone, while ABB Kent-Taylor supplied the flow measuring equipment.
Some 2,000 more bollards are to be fitted in south-east England by the end of 1998 and discussions are being held to license the technology to other water companies. The UK's largest water and sewerage company, Thames Water, has seven major international projects under way from Puerto Rico to China.
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