Save water. Save energy. Save money.

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities has approved The Acoustic Testing Pilot Program, a new $1.5 million grant program for water utilities to install state-of-the-art leak detection technology.

The program was developed by Dr. Kira Lawrence, Eagleton Science and Politics Fellowship recipient with the New Jersey BPU.

"Water leaks waste money, energy and a precious resource, especially at a widespread infrastructure level," state BPU President Joe Fiordaliso said.

Water uses the most energy resources with their water treatment plants and waste water treatment plants. So if the state can save both of these precious resources, then we're going in the right direction, said Fiordaliso.

He said on an infrastructure level, the state loses billions of gallons of water every year because of leaks. So, by using this new, advanced leak detection technology, water utilities that participate in this pilot will be able to identify and remediate leaks more quickly and with more insight as to where the worst leaks exist.

"The pilot program, I think, is an example of how New Jersey Board of Public Utilities has worked to implement the recommendations of Gov. Murphy's landmark energy master plan which includes looking for new energy-saving opportunities in complimentary sectors, such as the water sector," said Fiordaliso.

The 18-month program provides up to $500,000 for water utilities to install internal sensors throughout their systems in places like fire hydrants.

Fiordaliso said the sensors collect acoustic data that provide utility system operators and repair personnel information to pinpoint where to focus investigation and repair efforts.

This is a time saver, he added. Rather than excavate an area where they think there are leaks, this pilot program will help water utilities detect exactly where the leaks are, then excavate the land and repair the leaks. This in turn, saves water, energy and money.

Water utilities around New Jersey can apply for the grant through the BPU. They'll be evaluated, then selected. Fiordaliso is encouraging them to look at this pilot program and decide if it's good for them.

If implemented statewide, permanent acoustic leak detection technology could save tens of billions of gallons of water, tens of millions of kilowatt-hours of energy and millions of dollars per year.

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