Can The Sault’s Watermains Survive Another Harsh Winter?

Watermain Break

The winter of 2014/2015 was another challenging one for Sault Ste. Marie, with frigid temperatures contributing to another abnormal amount of watermain breaks over the winter. As a result of the 90 breaks experienced this winter, the PUC has commissioned an Acoustic Leak Detection Survey of the water distribution system. Completion of the survey will take 3 years, with a third of the city surveyed each year. “These surveys are key to letting us know how the distribution system held up over the winter,” says, Don DiDonato, PUC Water Distribution Manager. “Identifying these small leaks now, allows us to act proactively to address the leaks before they become full blown main breaks in the future”.
An Acoustic Leak Detection Survey involves a systematic search for leaks within a water distribution system. A skilled technician uses an electronic acoustical amplifier to listen for “leak sounds”. A “leak sound” is the distinct noise produced when pressurized water is forcing its way through a crack or joint in a pipe or valve. Crews will be using this acoustic method in order to pinpoint the precise locations of underground leaks. “An Acoustic Leak Detection Survey is a far more effective method of identifying leaks. In the past, the only way to detect a leak was if a PUC crew or resident noticed water seeping to the surface of the road and reported it,” said, DiDonato.

The survey will involve operating acoustic detection equipment above watermains. As the watermains are primarily located under roadways, overnight operating hours were chosen for this project to have less of an impact on traffic flow. Furthermore, the acoustic detection equipment is much more effective when the demand for water is at its lowest – typically, this is overnight.

Surveying activities will mainly be conducted on City property (roadways) but at times crews may be on private property (depending on watermain locations).

Watermark Solutions Ltd. will be conducting the Acoustic Leak Detection Survey on behalf of the PUC. It will take approximately 3 weeks to survey one third of the distribution system. The survey will occur in the area generally bounded by Gros Cap to North Street and Third Line West to St. Marys River.

The Leak Detection Survey will take place between the hours of (5 PM – 7 AM). For more information on Acoustic Leak Detection, please visit the Watermark Solutions website at or call PUC Customer Service at 705-759-6522 Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


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