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PipeScreen™ Service Line Analyzer Helps Severn Trent to Identify Lead Pipes

Mueller Water Products
Mueller PipeScreen™ Service Line Analyzer Helps Severn Trent to Identify Lead Pipes

PipeScreen™ Service Line Analyzer Helps Severn Trent to Identify Lead Pipes

By: Mueller

Acoustic lead screening, while new, is based on a proven technology that can be used to help water utilities protect the public from lead exposure and meet industry standards. Given the serious health risks associated with lead exposure, finding a solution that is non-disruptive and delivers quick insights, will provide utilities with a viable solution to analyze lead service lines as quickly as possible.

How does acoustic service line analysis work?

Two acoustic sensors are used to ‘bracket’ the portion of the supply line to be screened for pipe material, with one placed on the external stop tap and another sensor placed on the internal stop tap (sometimes referred to as stopcock or stop valve). In some cases, the second sensor can be placed outside a customer’s residence, such as on an external customer meter, eliminating the need for operators to enter the home. An acoustic signal is then sent through the pipe and recorded and analyzed by Echologics’ PipeScreen™ Service Line Analyzer and the Sentryx™ Water Intelligence platform. Using automated algorithms to analyze multiple acoustic features, the software can screen the pipe material within minutes. The data is automatically uploaded to the Sentryx online platform, a cloud application that provides immediate access to the data from any connected device.

In action at Severn Trent Water

Severn Trent Water (STW) actively manages lead plumbosolvency and by March 2025, the company plans to replace the lead supply pipes of up to 25,000 customers.

While STW knows where many of the lead supply pipes are located, these are customer owned and maintained so there are some locations where lead pipes may exist that it does not have records for. Traditional examinations can sometimes mistake copper for lead and finding a good pipe when digging can be a disruptive mistake that water companies want to avoid. Before going ahead with a supply pipe replacement STW wants to be certain that it is a lead pipe so that lead pipe replacement funding goes where it is most needed.

The company has been actively seeking out innovative technologies to address this issue. In January 2022 it engaged in a research program with Echologics to trial the PipeScreen Service Line Analyzer that can non-invasively determine if a water service line contains lead. Over 40 service pipes were tested, each taking between 15 to 20 minutes. STW validated 72% of the pipes by excavation or potholing. The results of the comparison between PipeScreen results and validations were impressive with 0% false negatives, 0 % false positives and 2.5% inconclusive tests, accurately identifying the correct type of supply pipe material. The 2.5% inconclusive were characterized by the analyzer as mixed material and validations confirmed that there was a mix of lead and another material in the tested service line.

Richard Brant, Green Recovery Subject Matter Expert at Severn Trent, said, “Taking inventory on lead service pipes is challenging, especially in parts of the country where the majority of houses were built over 50 years ago. Acoustic lead supply pipe detection is a game changer in making it quick and easy for us to find these pipes with certainty.”

To sign up for information about PipeScreen Service Line Analyzer Click Here

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