Paris water utility uses SmartBall® to quickly detect pipeline leaks

Paris water utility uses SmartBall® to quickly detect pipeline leaks

Eau de Paris, the public water utility in Paris, France, needed to inspect a critical, nearly 100-year-old drinking water pipeline for leaks without disrupting service. The solution? Xylem’s SmartBall platform quickly provided the exact location of leaks in three efficient deployments.
Eau de Paris provides three million people with high-quality water and strives to be a leader in sustainable water management. The utility is focused on optimizing its operations, embracing digital technologies, and delivering water to users at a fair price.
Last year, Eau de Paris needed to inspect the Voulzie pipeline, a 39-kilometer (24-mile) pipeline built in 1924. This cast-iron pipeline, with a diameter of 1.25 meters (4.1 feet), presented two problems.
First, the pipeline couldn’t be inspected directly by staff since it is too narrow, and access to the pipeline is too limited to allow for the use of a camera. Second, the inspection could not disrupt service, since the pipeline is one of the main arteries that supplies Paris with drinking water every day.

Eau de Paris, which has worked with Xylem for more than 30 years, decided to use Xylem’s SmartBall platform to get fast results.

The SmartBall platform is a free-swimming inspection tool that can detect pinhole-sized leaks using a highly sensitive acoustic sensor. It can also be used to map pipelines, which is especially useful for older pipelines.

During inspection, the SmartBall is inserted into a pipeline, tracked as it moves inside the pipeline, then extracted.

GPS coordinates for each pipeline leak

The inspection of the Voulzie pipeline was carried out in three stages. The first section of 16 km (10 miles) took 18 hours to inspect, the second section of nearly 19 km (12 miles) took 21 hours, and the final section of 4 km (2.5 miles) took 5 hours. At the end of this process, the data collected by the SmartBall platform was compiled into a report identifying and qualifying the nature of each leak, with GPS coordinates.

“This experiment was a success,” says Sebastien Popot, Head of the Diagnostics Project Unit, Eau de Paris. “Digital innovations like the SmartBall platform are valuable allies in optimizing our network asset management and improving our water management. This benefits our users and the environment.”

Based on the analysis of the inspection report provided by Xylem, Eau de Paris was able to quickly begin fixing the leaks and prioritizing pipeline repairs.
Learn more about Xylem’s solutions for pipeline inspections.
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