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🤖 "Synthetic Aperture Radar and Its Fascinating Applications in the Water Sector"

The Water Values Podcast

Photo by Markus Spiske / Unsplash

Host: Dave McGimpsey
Guest: James Perry | Vice President Business Development | Utilis
Category: 🤖 Technology

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[23:07] “Our first entry using synthetic aperture radar specifically tuned towards the signature of drinking water and for leak detection. […] We [have] a screening tool that allows you to get to about 150 feet of where this leak is occurring, because we're seeing the reflective signature of the drinking water below ground. It's assumed to be a leaking pipe. [This is] much more efficient rather than blindly going through 1000s of miles […] of pipes.”

[24:25] “We've done over 400 projects and we've verified over 30,000 leaks within our points of interest. And so that's a significant amount of data, [which] does of course, actively feed our algorithm. It's updated all the time. But the key thing from there is that we have found […] the dynamic mix of where the leaks are occurring within our points of interest. But also, […] we get a sense of the kind of leak. […] We see literally dripping spigots and we can see major […] 24 inch and above diameter leaks.”

[26:34] “The most important thing for our utilities is […] of course […] to find that big leak that's on a main that's ready to blow [and] going to cause major damage. And while […] we certainly find those, the sheer fact is that maintaining water systems is a grind. […] And so every leak matters, whether it's a small leak on the customer side or a big leak on a main. […] As a tool to understand your system, we can provide via a new product that we have, which is called Master Plan, we can essentially give a deficiency grading to an entire system. And that will allow utilities […] [to] focus on key areas of their system and […] effectively […] recover those leaks and know where they are.”

[28:17] “Even when [a leak] may be in revenue water, meaning customer side leaks, [we] campaign [that] every leak does matter. Because overall water is becoming more and more scarce as populations are growing and infrastructure is leaking […] at a greater rate. Often utilities will provide customers with a note on the door that says, you have a leak on your side, please attend to it. […] More and more regulation comes into place so that it keeps not only utilities accountable, but also users and customers accountable for their water and water use.

[30:55] “We are diversifying […] [and are] able to refine the algorithm for wastewater. And that is for extrusion or leakage on wastewater systems […]. But we've also diversified into soil moisture. […] Utilities do need to know where all moisture is below ground, how much moisture there is, and is it moving over time through seasonality, or wet and dry years over time. And we can provide that in a monitoring service of all moisture below ground. And then that also leads us into things like earth and dam monitoring applications, [which is] combining not only topography slope with moisture, but where mudslides could occur for railroad monitoring as well as roads and highway development. Really the sky's the limit in terms of application for all moisture below ground.”

[33:13] “It is absolutely an application for farming and irrigation in general. […] We do have the ability to add a greater level of resolution, no different than what we've done for our efficiency play on leak detection. We have the ability to provide a broader level of read resolution on percentages of soil moisture. […] And the other key thing is that quite interesting is the depth at which we're providing it, you're now looking at moisture at the root level. […] A lot of LIDAR irrigation monitoring is looking at the surface. [...] So if we're looking at the root health, that gives a better and earlier indicator of moisture and irrigation that's occurring below ground.”

[37:37] “The exciting part from our perspective is we're just getting started. The potential for synthetic aperture radar [is amazing] […]. We have been all about water, we have done our part on sustainability, water recovery, and managing and maintaining this precious resource. We've done it now for five years […] highly successfully on the drinking water side […]. And you can start to look for us continuing to diversify what we're doing into wastewater, reclaimed water. And all soil moisture applications that are coming […] in the near future.”

[38:44] “[There are] three key […] learnings that I've had over the last five years. We either need to make money for utilities by recovering that lost water. We need to save money for these utilities by more efficiently managing and maintaining their systems. And we need to be key in ensuring that they're regulatory compliant.”

Rating: 💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 44 min | 🗓️ 06/01/2021
✅ Time saved: 42 min