Review of Water Leak Detection and Localization Methods through Hydrophone Technology

Beenish Bakhtawar, Tarek Zayed

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Acoustic technologies are popular for detection of leak detriments in water pipelines. However, problems of false alarms, detection of weak or difficult leaks, accurate leak pinpointing, and the high cost of long-term monitoring remain prevalent. These issues demand a more sophisticated testing approach suitable for real-world application. In particular, hydrophone technology has strong promise for long-range leak detection in high-attenuation conditions. However, existing review studies only cover the methods of leak detection holistically, with limited insight into the practical implementation of sensing technologies for water leak detection. In particular, the problem of detecting and localizing leaks using hydroacoustic data has not yet been extensively studied. The current study, therefore, presents a state-of-the-art review of the extant literature on water leak detection and localization taking hydrophones as a good example of hydroacoustic water leak detection. The study compares hydrophones with other popular sensing technologies such as accelerometers and guides on its better application for detecting water leaks. Current research directions, gaps, and future work foci are also identified to enable further development of a hydrophone-based water leak detection system. Review shows that existing experiments are limited to controlled conditions where impacts of surrounding strata, ambient noise, and difficult pipe geometries cannot be studied. Future studies can apply the technology to real-life cases, developing faster analytical methods and hybrid solutions using a multisensing approach. This can help water leak experts enormously in cost-effective, efficient detection of leaks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number03121002
JournalJournal of Pipeline Systems Engineering and Practice
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021


  • Detection
  • Hydrophones
  • Localization
  • Water distribution network (WDN)
  • Water leaks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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