LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Hoping to prevent costly water main breaks, the Louisville Water Company has turned to a Canadian engineering company for some cutting edge technology.

The water company has already begun a large scale inspection of the 48-inch water main that runs underground along Eastern Parkway.

The inspection will continue for a couple of weeks.

"This particular water main has had three major breaks since 2011," said Kelley Dearing Smith, Communications Director for the water company.

Those breaks include one at Eastern Parkway and Baxter Avenue in April that had water flowing down Baxter into Tyler Park, creating a temporary waterfall over the bridge that spans the park.

Breaks like that are costly and inconvenient for customers who have to endure interruptions in service.

So on Tuesday at the intersection of Eastern Parkway and Delor Avenue engineers from the Canadian firm of Pure Technology used a device called a Sahara to test the water main for cracks or breaks.

"I tell people this is the James Bond of water technology," said Dearing Smith, adding: "this is cool even if you are not a water geek."

The engineers took time to carefully insert the Sahara tool in to a valve in the water main below the sidewalk.


A small parachute device then uses the flow of water to pull the sensor through the giant pipe.

"This is the first time that the water company has been able to inspect one of these giant cast iron water mains," says Dearing Smith.

The device allows the engineers to look for potential problems without having to shut off service to customers.

From inside a truck the engineers can watch the movement of the Sahara from computers and a TV monitor.

"You are actually looking at the inside of the pipe," explains project director Andy Williams of the water company, "so the actual tool is pulling with the water through the pipe so you can see the concrete lining of the pipe."

Data is collected at the scene and will be analyzed to see if repairs to the pipe will be needed.

"We will look at the full inspection, four and a half miles, and see what we need to do in terms of repairs," adds Dearing Smith.

She says although most of the water main breaks are small, the Louisville Water Company averages about 580 such breaks a year.

In 2013, that cost the company more than $2 million, so any way preventative action that can be taken to reduce that cost would be a good investment.

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