Reclamation prize competition seeks new ways to detect leaks and flaws in large buried pipelines

By on March 10, 2018

Seeking to stem the tide of billions of gallons of water being lost annually to undetected leaks in pipes delivering water, the Bureau of Reclamation has announced a new prize competition quest for innovative methods and technologies to detect leaks and flaws in large buried pipelines. No practical method currently exists to detect leaks and flaws in large diameter pipelines that deliver water for municipal, industrial, and agricultural uses.

Reclamation is partnering with the San Diego County Water Authority; Southern Nevada Water Authority, based in Las Vegas; and, Isle Utilities of London, England for this competition. Isle Utilities is a global organization seeking positive social, economic and environmental impacts through advancing innovative technologies.

Proposed solutions must be cost-effective and scalable to pipelines with lengths of approximately 100 miles. Reclamation’s newest competition is focused on steel pipe and prestressed concrete cylinder pipe with diameters greater than 48 inches. However, proposed solutions that can be applied to all size and type of pipelines in a wide variety of uses will be considered. Winning solutions that meet these criteria could have potential benefits not only to Reclamation and its water users, but to state and local municipal water utilities and customers.

Detecting leaks in pipes delivering treated drinking water is a substantial issue. Such loss results in billions of gallons of water lost annually or an amount equal to filling more than three million Olympic-size swimming pools. Early detection of leaks and flaws is the key to solving this problem and helping to prevent the loss of valuable and scarce water resources.

The prize competition consists of two stages. Stage One is a theoretical challenge requiring a written proposal. Reclamation is making a total prize purse of $75,000 available, to be divided by up to five winners. Based on the success of Stage One, Stage Two is planned to provide proof-of-concept in a laboratory-scale demonstration.

Submissions to this competition must be received by May 8, 2018 at 11:59 PM EDT. Late submissions will not be considered. For additional information regarding this competition to detect leaky and flawed large buried pipelines and/or to make application, go to: https://www.usbr.gov/research/challenges/leakypipes.html.