Northumbrian Water has partnered with industrial solutions company Suez UK and water detection experts Utilis to combat leakage through satellite technology.

The same technology that Utilis uses to look for water on other planets can also help identify leaks closer to home in remote areas of the country, quickly and without disruption. Capturing detailed images encompassing 3,500 square kilometres at once, it is able to cover an entire distribution system in one single image, relaying the information back to a team of leakage technicians to follow up.

Orbiting around 620 kilometres above Earth, the object has previously been used to detect water on distant planets.

The first phase of work will look at trunk mains pipes which run through rural areas of Northumbria making them difficult to check on.

Northumbrian Water’s network performance technical specialist Joseph Butterfield said: “The sheer speed of the process, the detail it gives and the distances the images cover is fantastic and should really help us improve our performance around finding and fixing leaks and saving water.”

He hopes the use of the new technology will open up “a whole world of leakage detection benefits” for the firm.

The work is in line with Ofwat’s latest calls for UK water companies to reduce leakages by 15 per cent in a bid to lower household bills and improve resilience of water supply with minimal disruption.

Nick Haskins, Suez UK’s business development director, said: “Using satellite technology to locate and fix water leaks is the most up-to-date and innovative method there is out there, and it gives water companies the ability to survey the whole water pipe network in a single operation. This, of course, has the added benefit of being completely discreet to the customer.”

Suez Water UK and Utilis have also recently worked with Warrington-based United Utilities, trialling the technology last month across 23,000 kilometres of pipe which pinpointed around 1,800 possible leaks.

In November 2017 Severn Trent also trialled the satellite leak detection with Suez Water UK and Utilis.


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