United Utilities In Water Leak Detection Crackdown

North-west based water supplier United Utilities has announced that it will be installing 100,000 acoustic loggers over the next two years on its network of water pipes to help with water leak detection.


The pipes are more than 26,000 miles long and the entire system could be wrapped around the world if pipes were laid end to end!


The acoustic loggers, small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, will be installed directly onto the fittings on the pipes, able to listen out for noise waves that are transferred in the event of a leak. If detected, an alarm will be sent to United Utilities’ integrated control centre.


An engineer can then be sent out to find the leak in question and arrange for repair works to be carried out. A trial of this technology was carried out in 2018, with the installation of 2,000 loggers in Liverpool and Manchester. It’s thought that these have already saved up to five million litres of water a day.


The first phase of the project will be implemented this summer, with 44,000 loggers installed around the north-west, costing £14 million. A second phase will be rolled out in 2020, with the overall investment reaching £30 million.


Network delivery director Kevin Fowlie said this huge project emphasises the commitment to reducing water leakage, saying: “We have one of the largest and oldest water supply networks in the UK and it’s a constant battle to keep on top of leaks. Many leaks never show on the surface, so it is a round-the-clock challenge to find and fix them.


“Following the extreme dry weather last year we’ve seen leakage rates increase due to ground movement.  We have doubled our leakage detection and repair resource to meet our leakage targets, and now we need to go even further.”


Businesses can do similar if they’re keen to improve the detection of leaks on their sites as well. Here at H2o Building Services, we prioritise the use of automated meter reading, where water usage is monitored continuously in a property so that issues can be spotted quickly and water-saving solutions adjusted as required over time.


If a sudden spike in water flow is seen, it’s possible that there may well be a leak, so appropriate action can be taken. And if data trends change over time, it indicates that the demands of the business have changed, so efficiency strategies can be adjusted accordingly so as to continue maximising savings.


We simply put a smart water flow meter on top of the main water meter on site, with installation costs typically about £700. Data is fed back through the meter to a reporting platform online to provide serious insight into water use across a business.