After an increase in capital investment in UK sewers to reduce hydraulic capacity problems, the proportion of sewer flooding incidents now linked to blockages has increased. It is clear that if sewer operators are to continue to reduce flooding incidents, then better blockage management is now required. Sewer blockage formation is poorly understood; blockages are intermittent and occur in a number of circumstances. This paper reports on the development of low-cost acoustic instrumentation that can identify the location of a pipe blockage and then estimate the local head loss as a result of the presence of a blockage. A set of experiments were carried out in two full-scale laboratory pipes. The pipes' condition was altered by inserting blockages of different sizes. Acoustic data were recorded and presented in terms of the acoustic energy reflected from the partially blocked pipe. The results of this study show that the total reflected acoustic energy correlates with the measured head loss. A new empirical relation between the reflected acoustic energy and head loss due to a blockage is derived. This knowledge can then be used to estimate the reduction in flow capacity resulting from a blockage based on a single remote measurement.

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