The Issue Facing Southern Nevada Water Authority

In March 2016, the Las Vegas Valley Water District (LVVWD) experienced pipeline breaks at three locations in close proximity. Working with its partner agency, the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA), water system operators suspected pressure transients were to blame, but the agency lacked the technology necessary to read rapid pressure spikes, which can occur for just a fraction of second.

For the water agencies to know which operational systems were to blame for the apparent transients, and how much to adjust them, it needed better pipeline flow data. SNWA and LVVWD partnered with Syrinix to address the issue by launching a pilot with the Syrinix Pipeminder-S technology.

Result of Pilot

The Pipeminder-S units were installed on small 1/4in valve connections on existing air-vac devices and automatically plotted their GPS locations via RADAR’s map interface. The pressure information was sent remotely, then via cellular connection. The minimum, mean and maximum pressure for each 15-minute interval of the day were recorded.

After one week, Syrinix concluded its pilot study, reporting clearly visible patterns of extreme pressure peaks, in some cases exceeding over 300 psi, which occurred in less than one one-hundredth of a second. Isolating the data to a moment in which a .047 second transient occurred, Syinix measured a water pressure spike from 13 psi to 323 psi, followed immediately by a drop to full vacuum. The PVC pipe was designed for a maximum pressure of 150 psi, less than half the transient force that caused the breaks.

Syrinix provided SNWA with transient graphs. When overlaid with the SNWA?s pump schedule, it became clear that pressure spikes were caused by specific valve systems. For the next week, water officials used Pipeminder-S devices to analyze whether the incidence and magnitude of transients could be lowered to around 150 psi when valve speeds were reduced.

“The high resolution monitoring gave us greater visibility, which in turn meant we could plan the specific operation repairs with the conviction that we were at the direct root of the problem,” said Kevin Fisher, LVVWD’s director of water quality and treatment. “The cost of one saved burst equated to the cost of the installation and the hardware purchased. Therefore, we’re happy that the Syrinix units not only solved our problem but saved us money and time.” In other words, Fisher added, “Syrinix technology gave us the information we required to understand why these line breaks were happening, which enabled us to act and make changes on the line to ensure it didn?t keep happening.”

Specifically, the data graph indicated an operational pressure of 10 psi, with approximately fifteen unexpected pressure transients exceeding 320 psi over a 17-hour period. Once adjustments were made to the relevant valve systems, the maximum observed pressure reduced from 323 psi to 160 psi.

The SNWA adjusted the speed and order in which individual pumps were turned on and continues to use Pipeminder-S to see whether alternative schedules have a positive or negative effect on pressure flow. Through the 50% reduction in transient magnitude, it has mitigated the risk for breaks and leaks.

Listen to a detailed interview with SNWA discussing this pilot:

Podcast Episode – Syrinix Pilot at SNWA

Opportunities for Positive Impact in Southern Nevada and Beyond

Las Vegas is formed of over 375,000 active services, with 23 active pressure zones and more than 4,500 miles of pipe ranging from 4-inch to 102-inch in size. There are more than 1,600 miles of service laterals. The area houses 79 reservoir basins and tanks that collectively hold nearly 1 billion gallons of water, 53 pumping stations with the capacity to move more than 1 million gallons of water per minute and more than 6,500 miles of water transmission and distribution pipelines.

“The utilities are geared to find leaks and fix them,” said James Dunning, CEO of Syrinix. “Some utilities have pipelines that are older than they should’ve been allowed to get, waiting for them to fail isn’t enough. You’ve got to get ahead of the curve and stop pipelines from failing in the first place.”

Bronson Mack, spokesman for the SNWA, echoed that point: “If you as a water utility can do some due diligence to minimize the wear and tear on underground infrastructure, you are going to extend the life of that infrastructure, save rate payer dollars, and prevent emergency shutdowns, brakes and repairs from occurring. The Syrinix system gives us a view inside our pipeline as to how the water is behaving, and we can optimize our operations accordingly.”

About the Syrinix Technology

Founded in the UK in 2004, and based now in Las Vegas, Syrinix had developed technology to measure water pressure fluctuations 128 times per second during every fifteen minute interval of the day. The device is called Pipeminder-S and it connects to hydrants or other valve connections, from which it sends data to RADAR, the Syrinx online portal.

“At a high level, what it’s about is giving the utility a much more detailed view of what’s happening on their network,” said Dunning. “These pressure waves move over a thousand meters every second. So if you’re only monitoring every minute or so to see if the system is okay then you’re going to miss all these pressure waves that ping around your network, straining your pipes.”

Though recognized primarily as a technology firm, Syrinix identifies itself as a risk-management company too since its data allows public utilities to avoid those repairs that over time cause water rate increases.


The Issue Facing Southern Nevada Water Authority

In the efforts to maintain Southern Nevada’s precious water resources, The Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) needs to conduct assessments of its major infrastructure and water intake systems to understand their condition and identify any repairs or upgrades that might be needed. Reaching and providing high quality imagery in areas such as Lake Mead can be challenging because of the depth of the intakes.

SNWA partnered with Abyss Solutions to conduct comprehensive assessments of three water intakes at Lake Mead and a standalone reservoir facility. Abyss Solutions is a robotic infrastructure assessment and management company based in Australia.

“Lake Mead and Hoover Dam are like American icons,” said Abyss Solutions company Director and COO Masood Naqshbandi. “The main challenge there is working at that depth. We were at 60 meters plus underwater. We had to customize our rig to get to those depths. We wanted to get a good understanding of the structure.”

Result of Pilot

The underwater inspection and condition assessment of the Lake Mead intakes functioned to gauge the structural integrity and extent of invasive quagga mussel growth in the intakes. Utilizing Abyss’ remotely operated vehicle controlled from a sampling vessel, the company surveyed each intake in mid-April, 2018, collecting more than 6,000 photo representations of the structures. The images were then evaluated and enhanced off site with algorithms to ensure true-color details and other finer points were visible. Three-dimensional depictions of certain faults and points of interest were also produced, while fault analysis allowed for examination of potential structural defects including corrosion, deformation and fractures within the intakes’ infrastructure. The condition of the intakes was then judged utilizing standards from the 2001 edition of the “ASCE Underwater Investigations Standard Practice Manual.”

Abyss found two out of three of the intakes to be in good condition. One of the two, which was inoperative at the time of inspection, had no visible damage though its structure had minor deterioration. No repairs were recommended, but a coating of quagga mussels at least 5/8 of an inch thick suggested a need for continuing monitoring and treatment of the region. The second “good” intake system showed a light layer of quagga mussels and apparent minor corrosion discoloration at a weld spot. Abyss suggested further investigation of the seeming damage at that spot as well as continuing quagga mussel treatment and observation.

A third intake system, which like the first is also currently out of use, was reported to be in fair condition due to apparent corrosion discoloration on screen support members. Abyss recommended repair of that problem should the intake system be put back into use, and it also suggested continuing quagga mussel assessment and treatment for this region as well, due to two or three dense layers of the invasive species across the structure.

Three-dimensional images of certain points of interest provided the water district with an even more advanced ability to assess the structure as a whole, with zoom and rotation abilities as well as clickable annotations.

The SNWA has put into effect treatments to keep the nonnative quagga mussels from colonizing its water infrastructure, and the results of Abyss’ work show those vital measures have been successful so far, said SNWA and Las Vegas Valley Water District spokesman Bronson Mack. “We’re very interested in advancing water technology for ourselves and for the water industry as a whole,” he said. “That high-fidelity imaging tells us that the system is working as it was intended.”

The technology used to assess the intakes also delved into a standalone reservoir, and a three-dimensional analysis of the system was compiled for engineers and other officials at SNWA, offering a complete portrait of the state of the structure. Through both assessments, Abyss Solutions provided the Southern Nevada agency with early access to an innovative and relatively low-cost technology. The remotely operated vehicles provide a smaller-scale alternative to massive machines with an enormous cost of operation and purchase.

Further Positive Impacts in Southern Nevada and Beyond

While in the country, the company also did a pilot with the U.S. Coast Guard, and its technology is being piloted in cooperation with oil and natural gas companies in the Middle East. It is also piloting its algorithms in the United Kingdom. Such projects will expand the knowledge base of the Abyss crews involved and allow them to better test and refine the technology they use in Nevada and abroad.

“We need water tech here,” said WaterStart Chief Executive Officer, Nathan Allen. “We have the smallest share of water in the Colorado River. We’re the driest state in the U.S. – always have been and always will be. The big benefit is that we reduce the risk of trying new things. By leveraging outside monies from the state or private interests to support pilots, our members are able to spend less money. The amount of red tape they have to navigate to try something new is reduced.”

Abyss Solutions has made Nevada its home base in the Western United States as a result of its partnership with WaterStart. It is now seeking additional work in the region in order to secure a full-time presence in Nevada. The company is in the process of discussions with the Las Vegas Valley Water District to arrange inspections of groundwater wells and reservoirs, providing a cost-effective manner of comprehensively monitoring vital water assets in the region.

About the Abyss Solutions Technology

Abyss Solutions is a robotic infrastructure assessment and management company based in Australia. Founded by a group of four academic researchers and advanced-degree students at the University of Sydney in 2014, the company offers water resource managers a detailed appraisal of the condition and environment of their underwater infrastructure with cutting-edge technology. Utilizing a remotely operated vehicle, a high-fidelity imaging system and a refined data analysis process, Abyss captures visual, acoustic and location data from the infrastructure. The company can then interpret the collected data to generate three-dimensional models of such systems, assessments of quality/condition and periodic evaluations of changes in the infrastructure over time.


The Issue Facing Southern Nevada Water Authority

The Southern Nevada Water Authority is a wholesale water provider that manages Southern Nevada regional water treatment and transmission system across 300 square miles of the Las Vegas Valley. The Las Vegas Valley Water District (LVVWD) is Southern Nevada’s largest a retail water utility, operating 57 pumping stations throughout the community. SNWA and LVVWD identified a need to optimize the water distribution system and evaluate the performance and efficiency of its water pumps.

Many of the pumping stations were not equipped with individual pump flow metering when the facilities were constructed, nor did the design of the facilities allow the agencies to install flow meters at the pumps to assess them individually. This makes it difficult to understand the efficiency of various pumps and identify opportunities for upgrading and cost savings.

Riventa’s FREEFLOW technology appeared promising to meet an identified need for optimizing water distribution and identifying efficiency opportunities for the water agencies.

Result of Pilot

Riventa installed its FREEFLOW technology at SNWA’s Hacienda Water Pumping Station in Southern Nevada and delivered previously unattainable information on individual pump performance at the 37-year-old facility that delivers water to higher-elevation areas of the community. This leading-edge thermodynamic pump monitoring technology identified $77,000 in potential annual savings at the Hacienda station in the spring of 2018.

For a system with 300 square miles of delivery to maintain, that could represent significant long-term savings spread out over the Las Vegas Valley Water District’s 57 pumping stations. LVVWD will utilize FREEFLOW to test four of those stations this year. Parts of the LVVWD system are more than 50 years old, and LVVWD plans to spend approximately $400 million over the next 10 years to replace, repair and maintain current assets.

Riventa conducted the test in the fall of 2017. During the 1,031 hours of testing, an energy cost of $244,840 ($53.40/MWh) was incurred while pumping a total volume of 3,184 million gallons. That equates to an annualized cost of more than $2 million and 27,058 gallons pumped.

Within the first two weeks of the pilot, FREEFLOW identified that the least efficient pump (No. 5) at the Hacienda station was being used the most. Its 78.3 percent pump efficiency lagged far behind the most efficient pump (No. 7) at 82.5 percent. Pump No. 5 ran more than 49 percent of the time during the full test, outpacing Pump No. 6 (39.9) by a good amount. Riventa concluded this inefficient pump, which was running the most, should only be used when absolutely needed.

The FREEFLOW technology also identified pumps that needed maintenance, pumps that did not need maintenance and the ideal combination of pump usage and time of use that would maximize efficiency and save money. By identifying pump No.’s 3, 4, 5, and 6 as refurbishment targets, Riventa estimated a possible increase in average pump efficiency from just below 80 percent to greater than 89 percent. Even at a refurbishment cost that could be upwards of $60,000 per pump, payback could be realized in less than 18 months.

Refurbishment would include the removal and reinstallation of the entire pump, including laser alignment, priming, and commissioning. Each pump would be stripped down and all standard wear parts would be replaced, as well as new O-rings, gaskets and seals being installed.

“With technology like Riventa, efficiency of each individual pumps using thermodynamic metering,” said Greg Kodweis, SNWA director of water quality and treatment. “Compared to standard flow meters, the Riventa system provides an efficient way to optimize the best pumping combinations to reduce pumping costs and support our assets management initiatives.”

An added benefit of the Riventa technology is that it can be installed on pumping facilities where piping configurations or other constraints may limit the ability of flow meters or other metering technology to be installed. As a conservation benefit, with the data provided by Riventa, utilities can compare the flow data from their pumping facilities with downstream metered data to verify if there are unaccounted losses within the water system.


  • $154,000 in annual savings identified from four pumps in need of refurbishment.
  • $100,000 in annual savings identified from pump scheduling based on demand.
  • Opportunity identified to increase average pump efficiency from just below 80 percent to greater than 89 percent, with payback of less than 18 months.
  • Identified that the most inefficient pump was being used the most often. Recommendations made to use this pump only when needed.

Pilot Follow-Up

Following its success at the Hacienda station, Riventa will be conducting permanent real-time monitoring and regular inspections of SNWA pumps to measure performance and efficiency. This will reduce the cost of routine pump inspections, improve pump efficiencies and reduce energy costs for pumping.

“The most compelling part is that they have been able to deliver on what their project ROI was,” Nate Allen, executive director of WaterStart, said. “For any small company with a newer technology, the first and most important hurdle is that the technology actually provides the value that they claim that it does. I think Riventa has done a great job proving that out.”

In fact, the economic potential could even be greater. Steve Barrett,co-founder of Riventa, describes SNWA’s savings as “quite typical” and said Riventa’s most successful project in the past three years identified savings of 47 percent at a large station in the UK: 19 percent from how the pumps drive; 21 percent from investments in refurbishment and asset replacement; and 9 percent from making that pump station work well as part of the system.

Riventa’s technology could help lower the cost of water delivery throughout the West for years to come.

Listen to an interview with Greg Kodweis of SNWA for an in-depth interview on the pilot:

Riventa Freeflow Pilot with SNWA

About the Riventa FREEFLOW Technology

Riventa’s FREEFLOW system is a thermodynamic pump monitoring technology that provides hydraulic, electrical power and motor efficiency measurement, as well as asset performance information. FREEFLOW turns out data on pump efficiency, motor power, flow rate and pump head.

Barrett explained how Riventa’s pump testing and monitoring capability, as well as network optimization technology, can help a utility save money, “The simple analogy we all can understand: imagine that your car doesn’t have a speedometer, doesn’t have a fuel gauge and you don’t know what gear it’s in,” Barrett said. “Imagine you had no info on the dash — how would you drive that car? That’s kind of where a lot of pumping station operators find themselves. They don’t have the information they need to drive their pumping system as efficiently as possible. It’s still difficult to operate that station at its best with the standard information that is generally provided. We provide additional information that helps operators do their jobs to the best of their ability.”

Nevada Economic Development Impact

Riventa will hire its first United States-based employee to work on business development from Las Vegas and plans to eventually to hire another two local employees within the next two years. The company currently employees 16 people in the UK and several more throughout the world.

“We’ve only just finished that first pilot and the water company is now placing more orders on us,” Barrett said. “We’ve had probably 10 visits, one a month, to California, Nevada, Arizona. We’ve presented and pitched our technology to probably 10 water utilities in the West Coast region. We’re talking about pilot projects with about 10 utilities.”

WaterStart provided $50,000 in innovation funds through its Commercialization Fund Program to facilitate Riventa’s first pilot project with SNWA, covering roughly half the total authorized cost. The immediate results delivered through Riventa’s technology show the potential for its impact in Nevada and beyond.

Check out a short clip highlighting the pilot!

Well To Do

The Issue Facing Southern Nevada Water Authority

Southern Nevada Water Authority identified nitrates as an important issue and the organization was looking for technologies to address the growing levels of nitrate in groundwater. “Nitrate is an issue for many groundwater systems across the nation. It enters groundwater supplies primarily from pollution, including fertilizer runoff or septic system infiltration,” said Eric Wert, a project manager with SNWA Applied Water Quality Research. “The nutrient is regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in drinking water supplies to minimize the health risk of methemoglobinemia, or blue baby syndrome.”

Numerous other states and even other countries are contemplating how to best address the issue to optimize water resources safely. In recent months, states including Florida and Minnesota have put forward plans to reduce the presence of nitrates in their local bodies of water. Wert said that as new treatments and technologies emerge in the water innovation field at a reduced cost, Nevada must search for sustainable solutions to address its water quality concerns.

SNWA partnered with Israeli company, WellToDo, to implement a pilot program using an innovative approach to address the groundwater nitrate issue. “The issue of nitrates in groundwater is relevant to a lot of communities and WellToDo’s approach was not one that we had seen before,” said Nate Allen of WaterStart. The pilot program in Nevada is a collaboration among WellToDo, WaterStart, the Southern Nevada Water Authority, Corona Environmental Consulting and the government of Israel.

Result of Pilot

WellToDo was chosen to address the nitrate problem at SNWA because they offer a unique solution that does not require disposal of leftover toxic waste from a treatment process, as many other potential fixes do. Early pilot testing with the SNWA showed proof-of-concept and demonstrated that the system can effectively remove nitrate and perchlorate from source water.

“Other methods collect the nitrate or contaminant in a small volume of water, so it solves the problem with the drinking water, but 10-15 percent of the water is then very, very contaminated,” says WellToDo Chief Executive Officer Hovav Gilanhe. “It’s not solving the problem. It’s just moving it somewhere else.” That somewhere else is generally a certified landfill. a costly proposition that may also involve regulatory challenges in transportation of the waste.

SNWA was impressed with more than just the ability to remove nitrates from groundwater without creating toxic waste. “The removal of perchlorate was a surprise. That had not been researched previously and presents another potential application for the WellToDo technology,” Wert said.

SNWA and WellToDo will continue to analyze, troubleshoot and optimize the process as they learn more from the pilot project. They have already made adjustments during the pilot that they believe will allow for development of the technology and refinement of the process for such projects in the future. For instance, according to Wert, they have learned through the pilot that ammonia and nitrite can be produced as byproducts of WellToDo’s reduction of the nitrates to nitrogen gas, and they are now working to minimize production of these additional products.

Additionally, during the second phase of pilot testing, WellToDo made changes to its catalyst composition after problems with the catalyst’s functionality. The second phase began in January and is ongoing. “Changing water caused us problems. My advice is just to be prepared,” Gilan said. “Every customer’s water will be different.”

About the WellToDo Technology

WellToDo utilizes its catalytic reduction process to eliminate the common pollutant nitrate from drinking and waste water. WellToDo’s product is one of the earliest-stage innovations in which WaterStart has invested so far, in large part due to its novel approach to addressing the excess nitrate problem. Prior to its Southern Nevada pilot project, the company completed two successful pilot tests in Israel. It is also conducting pilot testing with American Water in Illinois.

The partnership with WellToDo is the first time WaterStart has jointly funded a pilot with the government of Israel. Due to the Middle Eastern nation’s shared need for clean water technology in the desert and their robust water innovation program, Israel has formed a strong partnership with WaterStart through its national innovation authority.


The Issue Facing Bellagio Hotel

The Bellagio Hotel on the Las Vegas strip has been interested in getting a clearer understanding of the hotel’s water use in different applications and learn where there might be opportunities to eliminate water waste throughout their operations.

Facility managers, water experts, and sustainability professionals alike will tell you that it is nearly impossible for large organizations to have a good understanding of where they are wasting water without the right technology. “It’s invisible”, says Nate Allen, executive director of WaterStart. “It’s hard to tell but I think facility operators and facility managers have a sense. There is a feeling or sense of  ‘Oh my gosh, we should’ve known that.'”

The Bellagio has partnered with a water tech company, APANA, to address this issue. APANA is applying its water management system technology at the Bellagio, working with the property owner and operator, MGM Resorts International, to examine patterns of water use and identify any hidden water waste in a pilot project involving the site and its prominent fountains. Allen credited MGM’s corporate office for the work they have done so far to ensure water conservation at their Southern Nevada properties. He said that type of foresight allowed the corporation to see how significant this project with APANA could be.

MGM joined WaterStart because they have done a lot of the low-hanging fruit in water conservation. They’ve reduced their turf in all of their facilities. “They’ve done a lot of work,” he said. “The resorts want to go even further because they understand how important water is to their business.”

Result of Pilot

The pilot project, a partnership between Apana, MGM, the SNWA, and WaterStart, is using Apana’s scanning and analysis technology to locate any points of water waste or concerning patterns of water usage at selected points within the Bellagio’s massive infrastructure. Such scans will allow Bellagio to tweak its water use and note which, if any, points within its system are prone to water waste.

“This project represents a significant partnership on the frontier of technology incubation and development,” said Kent Sovocool, Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) senior conservation resource analyst. “High-end resorts like MGM’s Bellagio hotel are great candidates for testing new technologies. They have very large and complex systems that can otherwise be challenging to monitor.”

President of APANA, Tom Doll, added that almost every project the company has been involved in has “uncovered some very interesting results.” For instance, after connecting for a very short time with one client, Apana located a malfunction that caused a 1,200 gallon per day loss in a hot water line.

Results have shown:

  • Identified operational process improvements & real-time notifications
  • Reduced pool water consumption by ~37%
  • Resulted in annual savings of 900 MMBtu from reduced heating requirements
  • Resulted in annual savings of over 35,000 kWh

Importance for Bellagio, Southern Nevada and Beyond

“With smart water management, and the MGM Resorts/Bellagio project specifically, Apana expects to see real reductions in water waste and gains in water conservation, due to the awareness enabled by real-time measurement,” said Doll. “We anticipate all commercial and industrial buildings will be utilizing the new tools smart water management provides in the next 5 to 10 years and applaud WaterStart and the Southern Nevada Water Authority for taking a leadership role in this nascent industry.”

Insight into local companies’ water behavior and usage will allow the water authority to better tailor incentives to businesses. The partnership with the Bellagio will be the first time the SNWA will have access to such detailed information about a resort’s water utilization. Such knowledge is expected to help the organization answer questions about the most efficient and cost-effective relevant water conservation techniques for big local businesses.

“The first question is ‘Where would we get the most return??’ It was hard to really answer that question without any data,” Nate Allen said. “Most of the resorts in Las Vegas have one or two meters, and they’re the meters from the water district to calculate billing.”

The SNWA is particularly interested in assessing the inefficiency of water cooling towers, and they will have the chance to observe Bellagio’s data to measure the effectiveness of those devices through this pilot. “We’ll get great insight into how water is used in resort operations from hot water systems and restaurants to cooling towers, pools, and water features. The information we get from the pilot program and high-resolution monitoring could help inform future conservation program offerings or uncover opportunities to improve efficiencies and response times to leaks,” said Sovocool.

Although the Las Vegas Strip uses just about 1 percent of the water Nevada receives from the Colorado River, maximizing the efficiency of that 1 percent helps to sustain the region and could provide insight into other water use. The pilot project is the first attempt by the SNWA to build a set of trace use analytics for this customer class. “The technology could be widely utilized,” Allen said. “It’s a really cool partnership that has the potential to have a great impact.”

About the APANA Technology

Apana is often looking for what can’t be seen. Tucked behind walls or under roads, water infrastructure is often hidden, meaning everything from small flaws to larger malfunctions can go unseen without frequent monitoring.

Using smart Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, APANA technology captures high-resolution data from across an organization’s water infrastructure which is then sent to APANA’s secure, cloud-hosted analytics engine. Incoming data is constantly read by advanced proprietary analytics. The system looks for patterns and discrepancies across 1000’s of potential failure points to pinpoint waste events. Waste is identified in hidden equipment malfunctions, or in plain sight, like hoses left running or excess shift use. When waste events are identified, staff and managers are sent instant, actionable alerts.

Apana President Tom Doll, who jokingly describes the company as a 20-something-year-old startup, said that the business initially began its work as a wastewater treatment company. However, founder Frank Burns believed there was inherent waste in the built wastewater environment that, if remedied, could contribute to resource conservation. “There are things we can be doing today that will build capacity for tomorrow,” Doll said. “It’s one of the reasons that we are passionate about the things that we do.”

Apana and MGM won WaterStart’s 2019 Channels for Innovation Best Pilot Pitch Award!


The Issue Facing Southern Nevada Water Authority

Every water agency wants to be ahead of the curve when it comes to understanding the condition of its pipelines and overall infrastructure. Unexpected water main breaks are costly and have an economic ripple effect that limits customers from accessing businesses and causes numerous logistical disruptions. Proactive pipe management is important to identify and address failing pipes before a burst or a major leak occurs but is very difficult without the right technology.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) and Las Vegas Valley Water District (LVVWD) oversee thousands of miles of water pipeline throughout Southern Nevada. In 2015, the agencies made a bold move when they became one of the first water utilities in Nevada to employ a permanent leak monitoring technology. In April 2015, SNWA and LVVWD looked to Echologics for its emerging acoustic sensor technology that effectively detects water pipe leaks.

Result of Pilot

The technology company was commissioned to install its EchoShore- TX sensors on 30-inch diameter pipelines that run along Las Vegas Boulevard between Sunset and Flamingo roads, a roughly three-mile stretch. A total of 13 sensors were installed over the course of a week, and Las Vegas was officially one of the nation’s early adopters of constant water leak detection.

“When we first began investigating in leak detection technology, there were no products on the market that compared (to Echologics),” explained Ryan Benner, senior maintenance engineer for both the SNWA and LVVWD.

That $150,000 investment has paid off enormously, allowing the agency to gain a clearer understanding of the condition of its water pipeline infrastructure and allowing it to make better financial decisions about when and how to execute pipe repairs and initiate maintenance efforts. “This technology really allows you to deploy resources to repair leaks before catastrophic breaks occur and when it’s convenient to the customers,” added Charlie Fricke, Las Vegas-based distribution manager for Echologics.

The LVVWD had plans to replace about 500 feet of larger diameter pipeline at a busy intersection on Las Vegas Boulevard (The Strip). The project would cost the agency $1 million, but the disruption to businesses in the area would be a far greater economic detriment.

“The Echologics system gave us the confidence that that pipeline was not leaking without having to dig up the entire intersection for a visual inspection,” Benner said. “The Echologics system is now monitoring this underground infrastructure so that we can respond swiftly if a leak does occur.”

“This is really a technology that has a lot of pent-up demand,” added Nate Allen, WaterStart’s executive director. “The idea that $150,000-worth of sensors deferred [millions of dollars in] capital improvement work is an economic return in and of itself. This tool allows us to say ‘that pipe’s not broken, so let’s not interrupt business.’ It’s difficult to quantify that but it’s something every utility is worrying about right now.”

Listen to an in-depth interview on the Echologics pilot project with Ryan Benner of SNWA:

Podcast Episode – Echologics Pilot at SNWA

Further Positive Impacts in Southern Nevada and Beyond

Since the installation, SNWA and LVVWD have installed 54 more sensors throughout the city. Many of these new sensors are part of Echologics’ EchoShore-DX platform, which is for smaller water pipes, fewer than 16 inches in diameter. These nodes attach to caps on fire hydrants throughout the city, making for a very simple streamlined installation process. “This type of detection and monitoring allows us to plan and address problems before they become major issues,” Benner noted.

Based out of Toronto, Echologics now has two employees based in Las Vegas. While WaterStart, the state partner agency that helps to align new technologies with local water agency needs, aims to relocate enterprises to the region for economic development benefits, the Echologics story has impacts that go beyond adding jobs to the local economy.

The technology has now been deployed in numerous other markets, including Singapore, major east coast municipalities, and private water companies.

About the Echologics Technology

Echologics’ EchoShore-TX is designed for larger pipes with a minimum diameter of 16 inches. Nodes are installed in underground chambers, or secure access points, along with water mains. The nodes transmit data to an antenna and information is uploaded to a secure server. Algorithms are applied to bring accurate details with regards to the state of an underground pipe and whether or not a leak has occurred. If one exists, the system can pinpoint it very accurately.

The technology takes into account a variety of data factors and can be customized to a situation’s needs. Based on this information, a customized information interface is created, which can be integrated into existing client software programs. In the event of a leak, the platform will call, text, or email authorities.