Researchers Develop Advanced Techniques to Alleviate Water Shortage

Dr. Ahmed Senouci
Dr. Ahmed Senouci

Countries that account for 45% of the world population will need the development of 25% or more of additional water supplies by 2025. The International Water Management Institute forecasts that 45 countries that account for 33% of the world's population will experience scarcity.

Dr. Ahmed Senouci, associate professor in the University of Houston Department of Construction Management, and a team of Concordia University researchers have joined forces to solve potential shortages in the world's future water supply.

For the study, the research team traveled to the dry climate nation Doha, Qatar - where the average rainfall is less than 3 inches. Managing the water supply is a major challenge, and the water consumption is among the highest in the world. One of the main causes of the crisis is leaky pipes. Twenty to 30 percent of treated water is lost - a big problem in a developing country Dr. Senouci said. "The cost to developing nations is serious and precise detection of water losses in leaky pipelines will help the water distribution network where the percentage of water loss is in the 30 to 35 percent range. Water leakages greater than 35% can be catastrophic," said Dr. Senouci.

Typically, water noise loggers have been used to detect leakage in pipelines by analyzing the noise resulting from existing leaks. However, they are not effective alone. The team of researchers from Qatar University and Concordia worked together on a system that will help pinpoint leaks with greater precision with artificial neural networks (ANN) leak-detection models, which demonstrate the potential to locate leaks with 99.5% accuracy.

While on-site at Qatar University, the team installed the loggers to record the noise generated by a leak over a two-hour timeframe. The team worked for several weeks, monitoring and collecting data from more than 100 different locations. They ran ANN-based location prediction models and discovered that they were able to pinpoint the location of the leaks with 99.5% accuracy. Although many factors will impact the broad application, the improved accuracy will alleviate the high costs of identifying the locations of the leaks and repeatedly excavating to find them. The next step will be to continue leak-data surveys of different types of pipelines of varying sizes and types of materials, and develop customized models.