Aquify Water Leak Detection System

December 2020 - Skokie to Install Aquify Water Leak Detection System

The Village of Skokie is now leveraging the resources of one of the nation’s largest energy companies to monitor the community’s drinking water infrastructure 24/7 with smart water technology and advanced analytics. Through a new partnership with Aquify – an Exelon Company, the Village is  implementing a responsive analytics monitoring system to proactively address leaks and other system events to reduce and avoid unnecessary water loss, increase operational efficiency, and ensure affordable water costs for Skokie residents and businesses. 

“Village staff is continually searching for ways to increase the Village's level of environmental sustainability while providing residents with excellent services,” said Public Works Director Max Slankard. “This new system will significantly increase the Village's stewardship of one of our most precious resources - water - while ensuring that the community does not shoulder costs for undetected water system leaks. I am very optimistic about the possibilities of the Aquify system that I believe will help us quickly and efficiently detect wasteful, potentially costly water system leaks. The Village's decision to invest in the Aquify system, with its technologically innovative approach, will deliver benefits to the community, and to the environment, that will outweigh its cost.” 

Up until now, when a water main starts leaking, it typically takes time before the leak becomes noticeable on the surface or escalates into a serious issue resulting in a more costly repair. Identifying smaller leaks as they are happening in real-time can mitigate the effects of the larger, more disruptive breaks. Phase I of Skokie’s new system with Aquify is expected to be operational by January 31, 2021, and fully operational by June 30, 2021. The system includes 36 sensors and artificial intelligence analytics software that will be used to identify and address emerging and maintenance needs. Aquify’s professionally-staffed control center will provide advanced analytical support to the Village while monitoring the system around the clock.

October 2021 Update - Aquify System Thwarts Potentially Costly Water System Leak

During the early days of fall 2021, the Village’s new Aquify water leak detection system proved its worth. At approximately 3 a.m. on a Monday in late September, Aquify system sensors detected a dramatic increase in water flow from two different areas in southeast Skokie. The Public Works Department was alerted and began to investigate, determining that the increased flow was from a system leak. Public Works crews then searched the southeast industrial area for surface water, checked sewer lines and listened to fire hydrants and valves for sounds typically associated with a system leak.   

Within two days, a crew found a significant water flow in an area sewer, indicating that the water leak was not surfacing; rather, it was making its way into the sewer system. “There is no telling how long this leak could have remained undetected without the utilization of the Aquify technology,” said Jean Scher, Water & Sewer Superintendent. “Given the flow rate of almost an estimated one million gallons per day and its location in an industrial area with heavy truck traffic, the water leak could easily have caused significant structural damage and undermining of a roadway leading to catastrophic failure. Instead, Public Works crews made an immediate repair just over 48 hours from when the leak was first detected by the Aquify technology.” 

In the past, Skokie Public Works conducted annual water system leak detection tests each January. The potential loss from a prolonged, undetected leak of this magnitude could have resulted in significant costs not only for water loss, but probable disruptions to area businesses, roadway damage and increased repair costs. The loss to the Village alone could have exceeded $100,000, but in this instance, with the quick detection by the Aquify technology and diligent work of Public Works crews to find the source of the leak, the cost of water loss was just over $2,000. 

“Cost savings by reducing water loss is the primary reason for purchasing the Aquify technology,” said Public Works Director Max Slankard. “The Village has been engaged in a number of loss control measures for a few years, but the Aquify system provides an innovative opportunity to identify water leaks in a much more timely manner. The impressive experience with the recent leak validates the system’s effectiveness.” The Aquify system utilizes a responsive analytics monitoring system to proactively address leaks and other system events. System installation began in early 2021 and includes 36 sensors and artificial intelligence analytics software that identify and address both emergency and ongoing maintenance needs.