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WSSC Using New Technology To Detect Future Main Breaks

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This fiber-optic wire that runs along the length of pipes.  When it breaks, that's an acoustic leak, which is what the WSSC is focusing on.
Matt Bush
This fiber-optic wire that runs along the length of pipes. When it breaks, that's an acoustic leak, which is what the WSSC is focusing on.

By Matt Bush

One year ago next week, a broken water main flooded River Road in Bethesda, forcing rescuers to airlift out stranded motorists. In the past year, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission has focused on using acoustic technology to determine and prevent breaks before they happen. One way that's being done is with the use of what's called a Smart Ball.

It's actually two balls. The first, which looks exactly like a racquetball, contains a microphone. Mark Holley, from Pure Technologies, the company that developed the ball, says that is placed inside a larger foam ball, and then put inside the pipe. Acoustic leaks occur when fiberoptic wire within the pipe starts to break.

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