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Congratulations to Torres Strait Island Regional Council (TSIRC) for taking out the Infrastructure Project Innovation Award (Regional) at the Ozwater’22 Gala Dinner.

Following the successful implementation of an integrated leak reduction and network management approach, the remote Mer (Murray) Island community in the Torres Strait has had strict water restrictions lifted for the first time in 20 years.

The remote Mer Island community in the Torres Strait has endured over twenty years of strict water restrictions. The Torres Strait Island Regional Council in collaboration with demand management specialist Asset Life Alliance have implemented an integrated plan to firstly stabilize the water network and lift water restrictions through an onsite leak detection program, and then by installing a range of innovative industry technologies ensure the water network can be sustainably management into the future.

The project has provided Council Engineering Staff with new skills and strategies to manage water more efficiently across all its 15 island communities.

TSIRC Water Meter

At the commencement of this project residents of Mer only had access to six hours of water supply per day (7am-8:30am, 12pm-1pm, 4pm-7:30pm), these restrictions were the result of major water losses in the network leading to ongoing water supply shortages. TSIRC’s Water & Wastewater Department had made numerous attempts to address these losses using traditional resource intensive manual techniques, such as network isolation testing and repeated meter reads with minimal gains achieved.

The implementation of monitoring and automated technologies included the installation of smart meters, a bulk flow meter, inline acoustic leak sensors with AI monitoring and automated network pressure reduction valves. These technologies allowed for the remote monitoring of the network. TSIRC’s main logistics office is in Cairns, some 780km south of Mer Island. A range of remote monitoring capabilities are critical for TSIRC to manage the water & wastewater networks.

A site investigation found the cause of water losses was due to a cumulative effect of many small leaks throughout the mains network and within properties. The installation of smart meters with trending data has greatly improve Council’s capacity to monitor and address losses within property boundaries. While the new acoustic sensors coupled with the skills learnt through the onsite leak detection investigations have greatly improved TSIRC’s capacity to locate and repair subterranean leaks. The use of advanced pressure management has reduced pressure loads and volatility in the network, reducing leakage and increasing asset life.

Water security is a major issue across many of TSRIC’s island communities, the strategies learnt through this project have provided the Council with more efficient ways to manage all its water networks.