Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has announced that its Smart Ball technology has proven to be effective in detecting leaks in underground water pipelines that are difficult to identify using traditional techniques. This technology has detected 43 leaks in the water transmission network of Dubai since its implementation in April 2021 until the end of 2022, which has saved 130 million imperial gallons of water and AED5.2 million.
The Smart Ball system is a small spherical device that contains a highly sensitive acoustic sensor, which is inserted into the water network and travels freely driven by the water flow. The sensor can detect sounds produced by leaks and identify gas pockets or anomalies that have unique characteristics. Once the Smart Ball is extracted, the data compiled is analyzed by software using mathematical algorithms, which provide the exact location of leaks, gas pockets, or anomalies.
The Smart Ball can travel freely inside the transmission pipes at a speed of around 3 kilometers per hour and can inspect over 35 kilometers in one day without affecting the water flow. The technology contributes to reducing losses in water transmission and distribution networks, which is currently at 4.5%, one of the lowest worldwide.
DEWA has also launched the Water Smart Distribution Management System, which improves the automation, efficiency of operations, and reliability of water supplies. The system has a centralised around-the-clock system for remote control and monitoring, as well as innovative smart equipment and systems. It uses Remote Terminal Units (RTUs) installed at interconnections between the transmission and distribution pipelines and is linked with advanced water SCADA (Supervisory Control & Data Acquisition) and hydraulic-management systems. The system improves fault location and lowers costs.
Abdullah Obaidullah, Executive Vice President of Water & Civil at DEWA, said that DEWA monitors and remotely controls the water transmission network round the clock using the SCADA systems, which are linked to over 8,500 smart devices installed on pumping stations, reservoirs, and the water transmission and distribution pipeline network, which spans about 16,000 kilometers.
The Smart Ball leak detection technology reduces operational expenses by treating small cracks in the water transmission pipelines before they increase in size and cause further water wastage. This technology plays a significant role in conserving water resources and reducing wastage, as the UAE is among the top 10 most water-scarce countries globally. The country has a limited supply of freshwater, and its demand is growing rapidly due to the increase in population and economic growth.
Dubai has been proactive in adopting advanced technologies to address water scarcity and promote sustainable development. The city has launched several initiatives and projects to enhance water efficiency, such as the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, the largest single-site solar energy project in the world, which contributes to reducing carbon emissions and preserving natural resources.
DEWA’s Smart Ball technology is a remarkable achievement in the field of water management, as it helps in detecting leaks in underground pipelines that are difficult to identify using traditional techniques. This technology contributes to reducing water wastage and conserving water resources, which is crucial for sustainable development in a water-scarce region.