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Member companyUrban UtilitiesWriter
keywordsreservoir inspection, robotics
Internal inspections of reservoirs to assess structural integrity
The Issue at Urban Utilities
Reservoirs perform an integral function in the storage and delivery of a safe drinking water supply to our customers. The structural condition of the reservoir is perhaps the largest aspect of how it may perform overall in its ability to store drinking water.
The internal inspections of reservoirs can be problematic. Depending on the criticality of the reservoir the asset cannot always be emptied or taken off-line. Current inspections are undertaken by divers, which makes this a costly activity.
Deploy an ROUV to capture both above water and underwater footage.
The inspection was conducted over two consecutive days. The scope included:
- internal inspection of the reservoir through provision of tethered drone, above and below water,
- location/identification of interesting features/features of concern,
- detection of any foreign matter,
- amount of sedimentation on the floor,
- condition of internal fixtures and features,
- detection of ingress points,
- condition assessment report, and
- production of a 3D digital model.
Urban Utilities invested approximately AUD40,000 (USD28,000), of which 50% was funded under arrangements delivered in the Grant Deed between the State of Queensland and State of Nevada.
The ROUV was deployed from the access hatch on the top of the reservoir. The underwater inspection was undertaken using the submersible ROUV fitted with the Abyss Solutions imaging technology, which comprises a computer vision camera, integrated lighting and data capturing software. This allows high-fidelity data representation in turbid and low light environments.
The ROUV was also piloted on the surface of the water with an upward facing camera. Any sunlight visible was identified and noted as locations of possible ingress.
Abyss Solutions delivered the outcomes of the inspection via a reservoir condition database, web-accessible. The database also enables the download of a printable PDF report. The database houses:
- reservoir characteristics, including:
- reservoir details (year built, location, location coordinates)
- capacity (volumetric, contents, dimensions, water level)
- construction profile
- access profile
- inspection details (date, time, team, weather conditions)
- scoring guide/legend
- overall reservoir condition score.
Abyss Solutions also provided a condition assessment and score for individual reservoir elements:
- access hatch & ladders,
- floor level outlet,
- overflow outlet & inlet elbow,
- inlet pipe, pedestals & straps
- scour outlet & channel,
- columns & walls,
- water stop & concrete lip,
- telemetry sensors,
- mixer unit,
- roof soffit & purlins, and
A multi-criteria condition assessment based on the IPWEA Condition Assessment & Asset Performance Guidelines was applied to the reservoir. Each element was been assigned a condition grade ranging from ‘0-not rated’ to ‘5-very poor’. A weighted average was used to assign the overall reservoir condition. High fidelity imagery accompanies the assessment of each reservoir element.
Abyss Solutions also constructed a 3D digital model showing the internal configuration of the reservoir. The model was produced using data from the inspection. The model provides a 3D fly-through of key reservoir components with embedded imagery, and annotations. The method of delivery is via a portal, with a report that can be downloaded, exceeded expectations.
On the back of this successful trial, Urban Utilities self-funded an inspection of another drinking water reservoir. Adoption of this technology as a business-as-usual solution is under consideration.
About the Technology
Abyss Solutions, located in Sydney, Australia was founded by four scientists and engineers from The University of Sydney in 2014. Abyss is a robotics company that combines the latest innovations in ROUVs with state of the art data analytics to provide a safer, easier and more comprehensive underwater inspection, allowing for correct asset management decisions.
Reduce costs for reservoir inspections.
High fidelity imagery leads to increased accuracy regarding condition assessment.
Library of imagery creates ability to compare periodic inspection results.
Learnings from this trial can be shared across multiple industry sectors.
Through different approaches to asset integrity inspections and practices utilities can continue to improve the safety of the drinking water supply. In doing so, utilities are responding to the communities’ expectation that drinking water supply continues to reliable and resilient.
- While not quantified, the outcomes of the pilot indicate a reduced reliance on diver support which is costly.
- Efficiencies realized through continued use of footage during periodic inspections.
member managerKaren Pollock, Business Systems Coordinator
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