Getting to grips with data is paramount to making meaningful progress with leakage recent trials by a number of water companies have shown.

The more a company knows about its assets the better hope it has of understanding where leaks may be in the network so the more data the company can utilise the sooner it can identify problems in its pipe.

“If a company gets to the point where it is integrating data and providing insight as to what’s happening on the network, it can direct resource to the right place at the right time,” Stuart White, leakage services manager at Black & Veatch says in a new report exclusively for Utility Week members.

Mapping, pressure monitoring and sensor technology can be used to show not only where leaks could be but also the health of the pipes in the case of acoustic logging.  Feeding data back in real time allows the company to respond sooner and prevent water loss.

“If companies are able to understand, through the new technology, where the anomalies are, what the trends are and some of the signatures that indicate an issue is about to happen, they can intervene to prevent asset failure,” White said.

Each utility has different network challenges geographically and in terms of the age and amount of piping in their networks. However, all are subject to Ofwat’s requirements to reduce leakage drastically in the five-year period to 2025.

White said with new leaks appearing daily, it would be a tough enough challenge to maintain current leakage levels let alone make improvements needed to reach the targets.

Ofwat set out leakage targets for individual companies in its PR19 draft determinations with an overall challenge of a 17 per cent cut by 2025. Thames has been set a dramatic reduction of 25 per cent due to poor performance in the previous period.

For Thames, which has many pipes dating back to 1900 set beneath a large city in clay that contracts and expands through the year, one tactic is to roll out metering. Thames’ head of networks suggested that some loss is understood to be due to usage not leakage so the company has a “challenging” smart metering programme to get more households onto a meter.

Read the full report, available exclusively to Utility Week members.