Hydrogeophysics Liner Leak Location – Pinpointing industrial pond liner leaks


Image of liner and pond - photograph by Shawn Calendine

Solutions for a complex world: Pinpointing industrial pond liner leaks

Article by: Shawn Calendine | hydroGEOPHYSICS


An unfortunate but simple truth about industrial geosynthetic liners (impermeable engineered geomembranes and HDPE sheets) is that most will eventually leak.  This is not because of low-quality product, as North American geosynthetic companies produce some of the highest grade and best quality liners in the world.  Nor is it typically because of faulty installation methods, as installers follow strict installation procedures and third party construction quality assurance (CQA) oversite programs are often required.  Furthermore, when great product, installation procedures, and CQA programs are coupled with electrical leak location methods, the industry can ensure an extremely high level of confidence that newly installed liners will be intact and function without leaking.  Rather, leaks are due to the fact that all systems and products eventually become damaged, or break down due to use, time, and complex industrial environments.  When leaks happen while a system is in operation, one of the best (and sometimes only) ways to locate leaks is to use electric leak location technology.

hydroGEOPHYSICS electrical pond liner leak detection is one of the best guarantees of the integrity and long-term reliability of geosynthetic lined containment systems. 

Pond liner leak detection (aka, geoelectrical integrity survey) is one of the best guarantees of the integrity and long-term reliability of geosynthetic lined containment systems.  The technology offers accurate, repeatable, and safe surveys in systems that are fully operational.  HGI has over 20 years of experience with electric leak location technology developing unique and propriety methodologies, which have produced a success record unmatched in the industry.

The basic premise of geoelectrical integrity surveys is that electrical current will flow along the same pathways as water.  Therefore, the distribution of injected current depends upon the electrical properties of the geosynthetic liner, its substrate, and cover material.  Geomembranes are typically electrically resistive and act as a sheet insulator, while substrates and cover material (earth, water or both) are electrically conductive in comparison.  If a tear or holes exist in the liner, electrical current will flow through the openings, causing anomalous voltage readings.  Accordingly, the electric current flowing through a hole in the liner is significant and measurable.


Electrical flow through restive liner - Graphic by Dale Rucker


HGI’s unique and proprietary style of leak location condenses our technology into a single system where system functionality and data quality are continually monitored to ensure accurate reliable data. Our enhanced acquisition methods coupled with equipment advancements, such as sensor arrays expansive enough to accommodate very large ponds, deployment of gear without personnel entering the pond, and ability to survey ponds at full operating capacity create advantages no other system has.  Our methods reduce human error, enhance system reliability, increases investigation surface area, and support surveyor safety, all while reducing costs.

Our innovative approach allows HGI to isolate exceedingly small leaks within acres of liner, archive and post-process the data, present easy to understand maps highlighting anomalous readings associated with the leaks and get the job done quickly with limited site downtime.  Surveys can also include a global positioning system (GPS) to pinpoint the location of detected leaks.


Image of Kyle Rucker (HGI) performing Liner leak location - Photograph by Brian Cubbage


hydroGEOPHYSICS specialize in industrial ponds and containment structures containing highly conductive solutions such as processed mine waste-water, brine solution, and pregnant leach solution (PLS) from copper and gold mines, to structures for reservoirs, stormwater catchments, canals, and agricultural process ponds.   Electrical liner leak location methods are rooted in electrically-based geophysical methods which means with some adjustment we can also detect leaks and seeps in subsurface pipes, tanks, subsurface geological environments, as well as large earthen structures such as dams, heap leach pads, and tailings piles.

Follow the link below for more information on leak detection. If you have a project where leak detection could benefit you or your client, call us up!  We are passionate about what we do and honest with applications and limitations of geophysical technologies.  Cheers!


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About the Author: Shawn Calendine | hydroGEOPHYSICS

Shawn Calendine is the Marketing & Development Manager at hydroGEOPHYSICS (HGI). Since joining HGI in 2005, Shawn has worked in many positions for HGI, most notably, as a team member managing the leak detection and monitoring (LDM) program for nuclear waste tanks at the Hanford Site in eastern Washington State. Following the LDM program, Shawn moved into field geophysics, gaining high-level experience with HGI’s geophysical technology toolbox.

In addition to work as a marketing consultant, Shawn participates, as a board member for several industry-related nonprofit organizations and authored several papers on geophysical methods relating to liner leak location and resistivity characterization. Over the past 15 years, Shawn has presented on geophysical topics more than 30 times at professional meetings and conferences. Shawn holds Bachelor of Science degrees in both Environmental Science and General Science with a minor in Biology from Portland State University.

Shawn’s HGI Webpage  | Shawn‘s LinkedIn Page

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