Pressure Sensors’ Role in Solving Drought Problems

Welcome to All Sensors “Put the Pressure on Us” blog. This blog brings out pressure sensor aspects in a variety of applications inspired by headlines, consumer and industry requirements, market research, government activities and you. In this blog we’ll discuss the importance of pressure sensors’ role in solving drought problems.

Pressure Sensors’ Role in Solving Drought Problems

Sensors play an essential role in preventing excessive water usage and reducing water consumption to minimize the impact of drought situations. Of course there are many actions to conserve water that users can implement that do not involve sensors, but sensors can:

  • Determine if crop irrigation is sufficient to prevent over watering – soil monitoring through rain, temperature, wind, moisture sensors and more.
  • Detect leaks to avoid unnecessary water usage.

Pressure determines the flow rate and consequently the amount of water that is consumed so reducing the water pressure is a common conservation recommendation. Pressure regulators have a built-in pressure sensing mechanism.

Leak Detection

A common technique to determine if a system has leaks has three steps: pressurize the system, isolate the system from the pressure source and then measure the pressure to determine if a pressure drop occurs within a given amount of time. For residential and commercial water users, this would mean adding a pressure sensor to a system that already can measure unnecessary flow.

The utility’s water meter can identify water consumption with its low-flow indicator. Water flow when all water usage is turned off indicates leaking faucets, toilets, irrigation valves or even leaky pipes. Some estimates blame undetected water leaks for 5 to 15% of a private residence’s water consumption.

With today’s wireless technology and sophisticated computing capabilities, pressure sensing could become a tool for utilities to monitor their distribution networks to detect and identify the location of leaks before they become obvious geysers and floods. Researchers in Barcelona, Spain have been investigating this distributed pressure sensing approach for several years.  Using the proper number of appropriately placed pressure sensors in the distribution network generates a leakage signature that allows leakage localization. The leakage detection procedure compares real pressure and flow data with estimates using a simulation of the mathematical network model.  Genetic Algorithms allow the system to generate solutions to leakage problems in a much shorter timeframe than existing approaches.

With water conservation becoming more and more of an issue, both users and suppliers need to take the appropriate steps to ensure future availability. Pressure sensors could be a major part of the solution.

What do you think/Comments?
Do you have a pressure sensing question? Let me know and I’ll address it in an upcoming blog.
-Dan DeFalco, Marketing Manager, All Sensors Corporation (