Water Vision Case Study Melbourne v2

For the past five years, Melbourne, Australia has been selected as the “World’s Most Livable City” by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Above ground, life is great.

But beneath it’s infrastructure, it suffers from about 12% of non-revenue water every year.

In December 2015, a pilot program was launched to verify its technology can address this water loss— all from detailed area scans from space.

In the preliminary run of the program already, 18 leaks were detected in 4 days in the Melbourne suburbs. Crews were provided with a detailed “Leak Sheet Report” for every suspected leak. “Based on this pilot, we estimate the remote sensing technology will substantially improve our leak detection process, saving us time and resources which we use today to detect leaks.”

– Dean Barnett, Program Manager, Pipe Rover & Leak Detection at IWN [www.iwn.org.au].

During the program, we bench-marked two metrics:

  1. Location accuracy: field staff were able to verify a suspected leak’s location, within a 100 meter radius buffer of the original coordinates.
  2. The minimum detectable leak size was 0.1 liters per minute.


  • This innovative satellite scanning technology detects leaks efficiently, accurately and faster than existing solutions.
  • Remote sensing of subterranean water leakage is based on a primary algorithm that detects underground leaks by analyzing micro-spectral satellite imagery. We receives microwave satellite images as input and then applies mathematical manipulation and analysis to provide a vector of coordinates.
  • The  system is based on microwave reflectometry, or microwave electromagnetic signals. Microwaves are particularly useful for water detection, as water exhibits a high value of relative dielectric permittivity, therefore enabling the discovery and measurement of water in soil.
  • The technology has selected a specific microwave wavelength not only for its ability to penetrate the ground, but also due to its high sensitivity to treated water characteristics.
  • We survey an entire network periodically, providing monthly or quarterly results as requested.
  • Each scan typically requires only 2-4 days of field correlation to isolated the leak, raising the effectiveness of acoustic teams so that they can focus on the last few meters of a leak detection.