Date of Award

August 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil Engineering

Committee Member

Sez Atamturktur (co-chair)

Committee Member

Abdul Khan (co-chair)

Committee Member

Jacob Sorber


Conventional water pipeline leak-detection surveys employ labor-intensive acoustic techniques, which are usually expensive and less useful for continuous monitoring of distribution pipelines. Based on a comprehensive review of literature and available commercial products, it has been recognized that despite previous studies and products attempting to address the limitations of the conventional surveys by proposing and evaluating a myriad of leak-detection techniques (LDTs), they lacked extensive validation on complex looped systems. Additionally, they offer limited compatibility with some pipe materials such as those made of plastic and may even fail to distinguish leaks from other system disturbances. A novel LDT that addresses some of these limitations is developed and evaluated in the current study using an experimental set-up that is representative of a real-world pipeline system and made of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) pipe. The studied LDT requires continuous monitoring of the change in the cross spectral density of surface vibration measured at discrete locations along the pipeline. This vibration-based LDT was hypothesized to be capable of not only detecting the onset of leakage, but also determining its relative severity in complex pipeline systems. Findings based on a two-phase, controlled experimental testing revealed that the proposed LDT is capable of detecting leakages and estimating their relative severities in a real-size, multi-looped pipeline system that is comprised of multiple joints, bends and pipes of multiple sizes. Furthermore, the sustainability merits of the proposed LDT for a representative application scenario are estimated. Specifically, life cycle costs and energy consumption for monitoring the large diameter pipelines in the water distribution system of the Charleston peninsula region in South Carolina are estimated by developing conceptual prototypes of the sensing, communication and computation schemes for practically employing the proposed LDT. The prototype designs are informed by the knowledge derived from the two-phase experimental testing campaign. Overall, the proposed study contributes to the body of knowledge on water pipeline leak detection, specifically to non-intrusive vibration-based monitoring, applications on plastic pipelines, and smart and sustainable network-wide continuous monitoring schemes.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.