DC Water detects unseen water leak on transmission main using FIDO AI


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FIDO AI enables DC Water to discover unknown transmission leaks and validate other known leaks, thereby helping strengthen overall water distribution integrity, reduce NRW and minimise leakage damage.

The Challenge

Like most US water utilities, DC Water leak teams face resource and budgetary pressures.. Managers were looking for a way to reduce the investigation and repair time for active stubborn leaks in areas where traditional listening methods had failed.

As an innovation pilot prototype, DC Water wanted to test and validate FIDO AI in detecting and pinpointing leaks in tricky environments, such as complex networks, transmission mains and areas with high levels of background noise.

The FIDO AI Solution

DC Water’s operations team intentionally targeted an area with active and stubborn leaks in Southeast DC where traditional methods of leak detection had been unsuccessful.

The configuration of water pipelines in this area was particularly complicated, featuring a mixture of large and medium diameter pipes and parallel mains.

FIDO Bug hardware devices were used to carry out a sweep of the area to generate points of interest as a heat map.

The Bugs were deployed on valves across approximately 450 feet of 24-inch, 12-inch, and 8-inch water lines and left to take overnight samples for analysis by FIDO AI.

FIDO Bugs were then re-deployed as correlators to pinpoint the exact location of the leak between two POIs. These locations were then verified independently by engineers using other traditional acoustic equipment..

The Results

FIDO AI identified two large non-surfacing leaks which had previously gone undetected. One was on a 24-inch transmission main. The other was on an 8-inch main situated at a road intersection.

Armed with identification of the main leak and size provided by FIDO, DC’s water operations team repaired both leaks. One was substantial and required the replacement of  8-ft of 24-inch transmission main. The volume of this leak alone was estimated at 130 gpm (approx. 0.2 MGD) which is around 0.2% of DC Water’s daily consumption.

While not known when this leak started, the size and strategic importance of the main meant it was a significant find. DC Water noted that traditional correlation technologies have historically not found leaks along transmission mains.

The repair of the second, smaller leak also resolved an ongoing problem of potable water surfacing at a property further down the road.

By focussing on large leaks detected by FIDO Bugs, DC Water staff identified and repaired unseen leaks. With these repairs, Water Operations resolved a potable water leak that had been surfacing in a property, restored the integrity of the water distribution system and eliminated the loss of non-revenue water at this location.”

Dr. Churchill Okonkwo, Assistant Program Manager, DC Water


Total length of 24-inch, 12-in and 8-inch main swept using FIDO Bugs and FIDO AI


Volume of water saved in gallons per minute after repair to a transmission main


Percentage of company’s total water usage safeguarded through identification on one large leak