Two SJW employees standing in front of truck

Detecting Water Loss From Space

Meet Mark and Damon.  They make up San Jose Water’s premiere team responsible for identifying leaks detected using a new “Acoustic Leak Detection” system. The system draws on data from Utilis, satellite technology, which gives us indicators about locations where we might be experiencing leaks.

How can the satellite see a water leak and differentiate it from a local stream, creek, or swimming pool? The technology looks for a signature that makes treated water visible when read by satellites. The indicated locations are provided to our assigned Distribution System Inspectors, Mark G. and Damon R. They spend their days following up on this data to determine whether there is an active leak. When they find one, they look for its source, notify the neighbors if it is a San Jose Water system leak or notify the customer if the leak is on their property.

The program is popular among those customers who have been warned about ongoing leaks on their property. “Most customers we meet appreciate that we are out here trying to save water and letting them know when there is a leak on their property,” said Mark G. “People are usually pretty happy to work with us because catching a leak early can help save them time and money too.”

The entire system including more than 2,400 miles of pipes has been analyzed by Utilis satellites.  The service area is then broken down by region and divided into maps that Damon and Mark work their way through methodically hunting down each possible leak and determining whether it’s naturally occurring or actual water loss. It will take more than a year to work their way through the entire system.

Conservation is central to our mission as a water system. Aside from delivering and ensuring the quality of water, San Jose Water also aims to conserve water. However, it is not as simple as it sounds. Water loss is not always as obvious or apparent as a bursting pipe or erupting sprinkler.

To stay on top of future leaks, SJW is installing high-tech leak sensors on our fire hydrants. These sensors are responsible for detecting any potential problems and allows for SJW to fix them. To watch Damon and Mark at work, click HERE to watch Mark track down a leak identified by satellite.