Acoustic sensors listen for city water main leaks, 101 purchased by authority

Devices that use sensors to listen inside water main leaks before they become major gushers were approved for purchase Wednesday by a city authority.

Williamsport Water Authority approved the purchase of 101 of the devices called permaloggers.

“They work similar to a doctor’s stethoscope,” according to Douglas Keith, authority executive director.

The acoustic sensors are deployed throughout the water distribution system to listen for leaks in pipelines, giving the authority staff the ability to identify and locate leaks when they first appear and the flexibility to repair a leak during normal business hours in a more controlled environment rather than at night or on weekends during an emergency situation, he said.

Leak detection and other system audits help discover and repair leaks to ensure that water is being delivered at optimal efficiency. Over the past four years, these devices have helped to catch small leaks before they became major headaches, he said. Keith said the permaloggers have saved money for the authority by keeping it from repairing costly main breaks, although the devices cost $60,095 for the 101 units.

The authority’s budget of $50,000 allowed it to buy 77 of the permaloggers and for another $10,000 from the general budget fund it will get 24 more devices.