FIDO AI helps end water restrictions for remote islanders

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FIDO AI was used to negate false alarms and prioritise leak repair as part of an integrated demand management drive which reduced water losses by over 90%.

The Challenge

Small, remote island communities face particular challenges in managing their limited water supplies. With minimal summer rainfall and storage, the 450-strong population of Mer (Murray) Island, north of Queensland, had suffered from severe water restrictions for over 20 years. Daily household water supplies were reduced to just six hours per day.

As well as its geography and small economy, Mer Island’s largely unmapped water network was recording leakage between six and seven litres per second. This led to an over reliance on expensive permanent and emergency desalination costing up to $1,700 a day.

Meanwhile, lack of knowledge on the exact location, configuration and condition of buried water infrastructure made it harder to identify, pinpoint and rectify leaks.

The Torres Strait Island Regional Council needed an effective strategy to provide a sustainable and reliable potable water supply at a significantly lower cost.

The FIDO AI Solution

The council commissioned specialist contractors to formulate an intensive demand management programme using the latest technologies in acoustic leak detection, smart metering and flow management.

One of these, Assetlife Alliance,  through its links with FIDO’s ANZ partner Detection Services, deployed FIDO AI as part of an integrated approach to acoustic detection.

FIDO AI was chosen for the automated analysis of data being generated by a new estate of permanent 3rd party hydrophones on Mer’s water mains network.

Being sensor agnostic and easy to deploy on any network, it automatically uploads data and analyses files in seconds to more than 92% accuracy. This eliminated the need to train the council’s limited and inexperienced human resource in the time-consuming task of listening to noise files. It also negated the associated risk of false positives.

Using FIDO’s unique ability to size leaks, operatives could also accurately prioritise the most important larger leaks for investigation and repair, saving more water faster.

The Results

As one part of an integrated strategy incorporating multiple technologies, FIDO AI helped reduce overall water leaks to around 0.6 litres per second, a reduction of over 90%. Demand was made sustainable and water restrictions have been entirely lifted for the first time in over 20 years.

FIDO’s unique valuable insight into the volumetric pattern of leakage on Mer’s water network added certainty to strategic decisions on resource prioritization which would otherwise have been impossible. In this way, the council was able to get maximum value from its investment in hydrophones and maximum productivity from its limited human resource.

FIDO’s insight on leak-sizing also added confidence to leakage reduction calculations.

By using FIDO, the council further learned that previous assumptions that a few large leaks were the cause of water loss were inaccurate. In fact, it was an accumulation of smaller leaks. This knowledge will aid resource prioritization and planning in the future.

“The recent implementation of FIDO AI at Mer Island has proven to be an effective technology to allow TSIRC staff to more efficiently locate and repair mains leaks. Water security is a major issue across many of our 15 island communities, water management technologies such as FIDO AI will make us more resilient to future climate challenges..”

Danial Harrington, Senior project engineer