Acoustic detection installed in 50-km of water pipeline in Lake Huron system
Installation is part of $177-million program of "HELP Clean Water" collaboration of City of London, Lake Huron and Lake Erie.
On November 18, three authorities in southwest Ontario celebrated one of the last milestones in their cooperative project to improve the drinking water supply.
Politicians and dignitaries were on hand to see a demonstration of a Fibre Optic Monitoring System that has been installed in 50 kilometres of reinforced concrete pressure pipe that transfers water from a treatment plant on the shores of Lake Huron to a reservoir just north of the City of London. The FOM system installed in the Huron Primary Transmission Pipeline is the largest of its kind in Canada, but other cities like Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver are using similar technologies.
The FOM system works using acoustics. When the concrete reinforcing wires inside the pipe break, the sound is picked up and sent to data acquisition units on the pipeline. The sound of breaking wires is distinct enough that it can be isolated from other background noise in the pipe. The system notifies the system operators the exact location of the break so that they can organize repairs before there’s a catastrophic failure.
Andrew Henry, P.Eng., division manager of the regional water supply for the Lake Huron and Elgin Area, says the fibre optic monitoring system has been working well since it was commissioned, and “is giving us good data.” So far it has resulted in the replacement of five pipe pieces that were deteriorating, at an average cost of $75,000 each.
One reason for installing the system is to help avoid a repeat of the catastrophic failures of the transmission pipeline that in the past have flooded agricultural land and caused erosion. There have been four catastrophic failures in the 50 year-year history of the pipeline. The last one in 2012 flooded 70 acres of farmland and eroded land to a depth of up to a metre.
The FOM project is just one of eight major water improvement projects that have been carried out over the last 12 years as a partnership involving the Lake Huron Primary Water Supply System, the Elgin Area Primary Water Supply System, and the City of London. These authorities cover the water needs of 500,000 people and 15 municipalities in urban and rural communities. In 2004 they formed the partnership and developed the Huron Elgin London Project for Clean Water, or “HELP Clean Water,” which began construction in 2009 and is just winding up. The federal and provincial governments provided $100 million for the work.
The region is served by two water treatment plants, one on each of the two lakes. The goal of HELP is not only to improve and expand the system, but also to add full emergency power and reduce the region’s reliance on groundwater.
Besides the fibre optic monitoring project, the projects under the $177-million HELP program included the construction of a new reservoir and upgrades to a pumping station near the city of London, new residue management facilities at the water treatment plants, and pipeline twinning.
The specific names of the eight components and the consulting engineers involved are as follows:
- Southeast Reservoir and Pump Station (AECOM)
- Emergency Backup Generators (MVA Engineering)
- Residuals Management Facility – Lake Huron water treatment plant (CH2M Hill)
- Lake Huron Primary Transmission Pipeline Twinning (Stantec)
- Fibre Optic Monitoring System – Lake Huron water system (Stantec)
- Residuals Management Facility – Elgin Area water treatment plant (AECOM)
- Elgin Area Transmission Pipeline Twinning (Stantec)
- Filtration System Replacement (R.V. Anderson).
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