Anglian Water has entered a trial of novel leak detection technology on a live water mains without disruption to customers.

The trial uses multi-sensor, low-voltage conductivity and acoustic technology to listen for leaks in pipes. It navigates inside the pipe using high-resolution CCTV to assess its condition.

The Electro Scan sensors measure the variation of electricity passing through the pipe wall. Electricity will only pass through where there are defects or leaks in the non-metallic pipe wall.

The larger the defect of hole the higher the flow of electricity. It can detect holes as small as one centimetre in diameter and estimate how much water is being lost per second to allow the company to prioritise repairs accordingly.

James Hargrave, regional operational leakage manager, said: “By being able to measure the amount of water lost, and the general condition of the main we can make the best decision on how to undertake the necessary repair, minimising any interruption to customer supply, local disruption and continuing our pledge to reduce leakage for the long term.”

It is the first time this type of pipe assessment and leak detection tool has been used in a live water main in the UK.

Electro Scan’s device won this year’s Future Water Association Water Dragons competition, in which it was sponsored by Anglian.

Hargrave added that the company was exploring detecting particularly difficult to find leaks before they are visible to the naked eye.

“We’re looking into every avenue of engineering available to us to continually be better, and technology like this will revolutionise our ability to meet those tough targets.”

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