Skip to main content


Periodic Reporting for period 3 - WADI (WADI)

Reporting period: 2019-04-01 to 2020-07-31

Water scarcity is a worldwide concern. In some places of Europe, about 50% of water resources are lost due to relevant losses in water transmission systems. Detection of leakages in large diameter mains, which represent a high share of the total water losses, is key, but it has been poorly addressed due to the challenges it faces, such as less frequent access to pipe, quickly attenuated high frequency noise, multiple travel paths. Moreover, a major factor hampering the market uptake of innovative solutions in the field of water leak detection in large mains is the lack of real scale demonstration of their long-term viability.

The WADI project has proved the feasibility of an airborne water leak detection surveillance service, aimed at providing water utilities with adequate information on leaks in water infrastructure outside urban areas, thus enabling prompt and cost-effective repairs. More specifically, the objective of WADI are: to contribute to the reduction of losses in water transmission systems for water supply, irrigation, and hydropower; to decrease the related energy consumption and CO2 emissions; to help utilities in providing services more cost-effectivly; to integrate a reliable and scalable concept of the ecosystem services evaluation in water management. WADI’s service feasibility was tested in an operational environment in two pilot sites, in France and Portugal, different for infrastructure type and age, water uses, accessibility, soil plant cover type etc.
"WADI carried out a thorough revision of the state of the technologies and services that are relevant for the competitive positioning of the WADI service, as well as the definition of end-users’ requirements (WP2).

The project selected and purchased equipment for the WADI sensors system on the airborne platform (WP3)

In WP4 the project provided the operational software required for WADI inversion data processing, optimized using multiple processing approaches, fast computing running and cognitive ergonomic design and usage.

The ""Validation demonstrations in France"" (WP5) performed real flight tests over different type of water supply infrastructure site using the instrumented aircraft and UAV, providing data for a comparative assessment of WADI with a typical ground leak detection technique (acoustic), collecting airborne measurement data and flight parameters for data processing and results analysis and to make improvements relevant to the sensor system and data processing.

The ""Operational demonstration in Portugal"" (WP6) conducted an operational demonstration of the WADI technique on big scale water supply and irrigation mains. The aim was to execute flights in a real operational scenario, with a great number of sorties on a vast terrain for several days, covering two different seasons and stages of vegetation. A ground leak detection campaign cross-checked the data provided by the surveillance flights

The “Analysis of the results and societal benefits” (WP7) tested, through a multi-dimensional approach, the suitability of WADI service to detect water leaks in two real and different ecosystem types environments. The WADI service demonstrated being able to detect water leaks in a reliable manner with a reasonable probability of detection (measured by Performance Matrix and by means of satellite comparison), but also to be sustainable, environmentally (LCA assessment) and economically (LCC assessment) leading to an economic probed benefit situation after WADI service implementation.

The“Legal and regulatory aspects analysis” (WP8) analyzed the framework relevant for the WADI project and the legal framework relevant for a leakage detection service, and supported the exploitation plan by framing a proposal for terms and conditions.

“Market analysis and exploitation” (WP9) conducted an in-depth analysis of specifics of leak detection technologies and markets, and the competitive position of the WADI service. This WP developed a marketing strategy and a business plan underpinning the commercialization and exploitation of the WADI innovations.

“Communication and Dissemination” (WP10) managed the outreach of the project results to the stakeholders. WADI website recorded 7,498 user sessions and 15,614 page views, the newsletter was regularly issued reaching a community of about 500 stakeholders. WADI produced 5 articles and interviews, 9 press releases, shot and distributed a Video News Release (VNR) viewed more than 300 times on YouTube and downloaded by 10 TV stations. The WADI final conference gathered 62 international participants."
As a final result of the WADI project, a prototype of an airborne water leak detection surveillance service is up and running, and a group of partners has defined an exploitation path towards its full commercialization.

The innovativeness of WADI relies on the concept of coupling and optimising existing technologies applying them on two complementary aerial platforms - airplanes and drones- detecting anomalies that could lead to the conclusion that there is a leak in water infrastructure. WADI’s technology, being airborne, is particularly suitable to reach inaccessible locations. It is versatile thanks to the use of the two platforms: MAV for larger areas and UAV for smaller areas and even more precise analysis. It is also cost-effective: the analysed data indicate that the cost of WADI is considerably inferior to other methods. WADI service demonstrated to be sustainable from an environmental and economic point of view and to locate water leaks with a resolution certainty between 50 and 70%.

The main scientific results of WADI are: remote sensing with two hyperspectral cameras (VNIR and SWIR) and a thermal infrared camera to explore different spectral combinations obtaining the strongest signature from moist soil (Triangle method provides the best results); assessment of the robustness of the Triangle method with respect to the signal pre-processing; set-up and implementation of WADI sensors system on two airborne platforms for simultaneous analysis; multi-temporal analysis with UAV with for optimising the flight schedule.

The context in which the WADI service operates favours traditional leakage detection methods that are effective, but time-consuming, labour-intensive, and costly to implement. Changes and improvements in the following policy areas would benefit the uptake of an innovative leakage detection practices, such as WADI:
- Non-revenue water (NRW): The mandate to set national NRW targets will drive innovation and provide a more fertile market for WADI service and other innovative leakage detection methods and technologies.
- Public procurement procedures: regulations on public procurement procedures needs to be modified to include factors other than price, including environmental and “green” technologies, innovative approaches, energy efficient methods.
- Corporate governance: corporate governance procedures between the owner of the public service or a regulator and the water service provider could be adapted to favour the application of innovative technologies.
- Tariffs: regulators could require – as a pre-condition for approval of tariff adjustments – that NRW and electricity use reduction targets be set and achieved.