SmartBall® for Water and Wastewater Water Mains

SmartBall® is an innovative free-swimming in-line leak detection technology designed to operate in live large diameter water mains. It is a free-swimming foam ball with an instrument-filled aluminum alloy core capable of detecting and locating very small leaks and gas pocket leaks in pipelines.



  • Potable Water
  • Raw Water
  • Wastewater

Pipe Materials

Pipe Diameters

6" (150mm) and larger

Related Topics

SmartBall® can be inserted and retrieved from a pipeline under normal operation. The ball travels with the water flow for up to 12 hours, collecting information about leaks over many miles of pipeline with a single deployment.

The size of the SmartBall® selected for a specific survey is based on a number of criteria including the diameter of the pipeline, location of in-line valves, the size of the appurtenances through which the SmartBall® is inserted and retrieved, and the presence of other lateral lines. Typically, the SmartBall® will be less than one-third the diameter of the pipeline.

Featured Project

BWWB Trenchless Technology

Reducing Water Loss through Leak Detection on Water Transmission Mains

In the August 2013 issue of Trenchless Technology, Birmingham Water Works Board’s project was featured as an example of how utilities can manage their aging pipeline infrastructure through the use of advanced leak detection technology.


  • There is no apparatus noise, so it can detect very small leaks.
  • Typical location accuracy within 10 ft. (3 m)
  • Small size allows it to pass through inline valves, reducers and other appurtenances.
  • Long battery life and large memory capacity allows it to operate for up to twelve hours, thereby permitting very long lengths of pipeline to be surveyed with a single deployment (at a water flow rate of 1.64 ft/s ( 0.5 m/s), the ball can travel almost 15 miles (25 km).
  • Only two access points are needed into the pipe -- one at insertion and one at extraction.
  • Lightweight tracking equipment requiring minimal access to the pipe.
  • High leak acoustic sensitivity and leak detection resolution.
  • Leak detection ability has been confirmed to exceed that of competing transmission main leak detection technologies independently by the EPA/Battelle

SmartBall® is suitable for numerous applications, including:

  • Transmission water mains 6-inches (150mm) and greater.
  • Pressure pipe of any material.
  • Water, raw water and other pressure pipes where insertion and removal can be assured.

How it Works

SmartBall's® acoustic sensor passes through the entire length of pipe being surveyed. The sensor can clearly discern the acoustic activity associated with leaks. This data is recorded and post-processed to report the presence and location of leaks.

SmartBall® calculates the locations of leaks by detecting acoustic pulses emitted by the ball at receivers attached to pipe appurtenances. The locations of the leaks relative to the receiver positions are determined by analyzing arrival times of the pulses.

Additional instrumentation in the SmartBall® is used to calculate flow rates along the pipeline and to identify valves, pipe joints and other features of the line.

Additional SmartBall Projects

Non-Revenue Water (NRW)

Austin Water Utility Addresses Water Loss on Its Large-Diameter Potable Water Network

In June 2013, Austin Water Utility (AWU) completed two internal inspections to locate leaks and air pockets on its large-diameter potable water transmission mains.

Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District Begins Phase One of Force Main Condition Assessment Program

The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District started the first phase of its multi-year, Consent Decree mandated force main condition assessment program by completing leak and gas pocket surveys on several of its high-risk force mains in April 2013.

Non-Revenue Water (NRW)

Utilities in Sweden and Belgium Complete Successful Leak Detection Inspections

Two utilities – TMVW in Belgium and the Department of Sustainable Waste and Water in Gothenburg, Sweden – completed successful inspections to locate leaks and gas pockets using SmartBall® technology in early 2013.

SmartBall PWA comes to Boston at ACE14

Contact Us

Contact Pure today to learn more about how SmartBall® can help you find leaks and gas pockets in your water and wastewater pipelines.

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