The water industry has been stepping up efforts to tackle leakage with technology such as drones and satellites and now Severn Trent has added taxi drivers to the list.
In a bid to cut costs, the company carried out a series of two-week trials to find “more efficient” ways to find and fix leaks.
Taxi drivers showed live footage and images to the company’s engineers, who were able to assess more leaks in a day and send out appropriate staff to fix issues.
The company will analyse the data collected during the trial to determine if it is cheaper than sending technicians straight out to reported leaks.
A spokesperson for Severn Trent said: “We’ve carried out a series of two-week trials as we look to find new, more efficient ways to find and fix leaks. This particular trial has looked at around 50 small leaks where we’ve used taxi drivers rather than technicians as a cheaper way to get live video footage of the leak so our engineers back at base can quickly assess the correct response and dispatch the most appropriate team to fix it.
“We’re now looking at all the trial results to see the best way to help our engineers spend more time doing what’s best for our customers by fixing leaks rather than simply assessing them.”
Ofwat has challenged the water sector to reduce leakage by 15 per cent by 2025 and said it will take tough action against companies which do not meet their leakage commitments.
The regulator urged water companies to deliver a “game change” on leakage.
In a recent interview with Utility Week, Rachel Fletcher, Ofwat’s chief executive said the leakage target set by her predecessor Cathryn Ross has been an “interesting experiment” in using a different tool as a regulator.
She said: “It’s been really encouraging to see all water companies say, ‘well we know we have to meet at least a 15 per cent leakage reduction over the next five years’ – so I think there is something we can build on and provide more clarity.”
Last year, Severn Trent announced it was trailing a video calling service to enable customers to report leaks to engineers “face-to-face”.
The company also started to use machine learning to help transform the way it approaches leaks.