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Water distribution systems are exposed to leakage which leads to water wastage. This is a
common issue encountered in the water industry. Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) is a
non-destructive technique (NDT) that can be used to detect and localize the water leaks
precisely in underground distribution pipe system by providing high-resolution subsurface
images. GPR responds to changes in electrical properties, which are function of soil, rock
material and moisture content. In order to evaluate the performance and limitations of this
method, experimental water leakage for shallow buried PVC pipe (at a depth of 0.24 m
and 0.23 m with a medium of dry sand and loose soil respectively) was performed. Holes
were drilled in the middle of the pipe to allow the water to leak out into the simulated
soils (sand and loose soil) Water was allowed to flows into the pipe. The frequency of the
GPR is 1.6GHz. The analysis was done using RADAN 6.6. Results show that the average
depth determined by GPR is 0.2363 m 0.220 m respectively, which is nearly accurate.
Presence of water in a medium was detected as "wiggle traces". The moisture in the
medium has the most important influence on the signal reflection. The appearance of the
hyperbola is delayed and the reflection is attenuated when water content increases. It is
difficult to determine visually the type and extent of a leak from the reflected signal. Most
leaks are detectable by observing radar signal attenuation due to variation of water
content. The contrast is more obvious for a leak after short period because the contrast
between big dry area and small wet area is strong.