Sydney Water wins international award for water utilities project

Posted 19 January 2017

Detecting pipe failuresSydney Water has garnered international acclaim for spearheading a water utilities project to better detect pipe failures, which has implications for organisations everywhere.

The Advanced Condition Assessment and Pipe Failure Prediction Project was a $16 million, six-year collaboration between a number of Australian and international organisations.

The prize comes via the Project Innovation Award in Applied Research at the International Water Association (IWA) World Water Congress and Exhibition. 

Monash University led the research, supported by University of Technology Sydney and the University of Newcastle. The project aimed to help water utilities predict when and where major failures of critical pipes would occur, and provide effective long-term preventative solutions.

The project’s success was only possible thanks to extensive worldwide collaboration, said Sydney Water Project Leader Dammika Vitanage. 

“The success of this significant innovation for the international water industry is due in large part to the fact that we assembled the best project team, and to the leadership displayed by the collective water industry,” Vitanage said. 

“Our prime focus was to undertake research that would lead to providing improved services to the customers of water utilities worldwide.”

A unique research infrastructure comprised of a 1.2 km long research pipe test bed and an automated pipe-burst testing facility was created to test-run this project.

The team successfully improved water pipe inspection, predicted pipe failure to reduce renewal and maintenance costs, and improved reliability and customer service.

In addition, they produced a world-first calibrated model to predict the long-term exterior corrosion of cast-iron pipes, and enhanced interpretations of existing tool results through innovative machine learning techniques.