This paper describes the design and development of a new sensor which is low cost to manufacture and install and is reliable in operation with sufficient accuracy, resolution and repeatability for use in newly developed systems for pipeline monitoring and leakage detection. To provide an appropriate signal, the concept of a “failure” sensor is introduced, in which the output is not necessarily proportional to the input, but is unmistakably affected when an unusual event occurs. The design of this failure sensor is based on the water opacity which can be indicative of an unusual event in a water distribution network. The laboratory work and field trials necessary to design and prove out this type of failure sensor are described here. It is concluded that a low-cost failure sensor of this type has good potential for use in a comprehensive water monitoring and management system based on Artificial Neural Networks (ANN).

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