KWA introduces improvised water stethoscope to avert indiscriminate digging up of roads to detect blocks

Water stethoscope developed by Ernakulam circle of KWA.

Water stethoscope developed by Ernakulam circle of KWA.


Digging up even freshly-surfaced roads in search of blocks in the pipeline may soon become a thing of the past thanks to an improvised water stethoscope developed by the Ernakulam circle of the Kerala Water Authority (KWA).

The water stethoscope is essentially a pressure gauge that could read pressure to the minutest point of 0.01 kilogram per square centimetre. It has a hosepipe that can be attached to the main pipeline that could be accessed by removing the union of independent water meters upstream of the area experiencing shortage of water supply.

“Blocks in the pipeline result in the sudden drop in pressure, which could be precisely detected by using the water stethoscope at consecutive water connection points. This will help to avoid digging up roads indiscriminately for detecting the blocks,” said Jochan Joseph, superintending engineer, Ernakulam circle of KWA.

At present, KWA follows a primitive method to identify the blocks whereby a team comprising of an assistant engineer, assistant executive engineer, and a plumber manually check the pressure at public taps in the affected areas by pure hypothesis. This could lead to inaccurate diagnosis of blocks and by extension wasteful digging up of roads. The water stethoscope would help gauge the pressure precisely between different points facilitating target digging.

“Besides, all the 45 engineers in our circle have also been asked to document the pressure in Google Spreadsheets periodically even in the absence of specific complaints. This could serve as a database for detecting the pressure variations when a problem arises,” said Mr. Joseph.

A training session for the engineers is also on the anvil for familiarizing them with the use of water stethoscopes. All officers from superintending engineer up to assistant engineer associated with the maintenance have been asked to carry a water stethoscope henceforth.

While the blocks cause a sudden pressure drop in the water supply between different points along a pipeline, the drop in pressure caused by leakages is uniform across an entire pipeline making its accurate detection even with the help of a water stethoscope near impossible. However, the equipment coupled with the water pressure database on Google Spreadsheet is supposed to give a fair idea about a potential leak enabling a more targeted digging of roads after which the leak could be accurately detected by attaching a flow measuring equipment to the main pipeline.

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Printable version | May 16, 2022 6:09:03 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/kwa-introduces-improvised-water-stethoscope-to-avert-indiscriminate-digging-up-of-roads-to-detect-blocks/article38301990.ece