Anglian heads off to sea to find way to spot leaks in the pipeline

Anglian Water has claimed an industry first in deploying an adapted form of naval technology to locate invisible pipeline leaks.

The products of the adapted technology – advanced noise loggers – are placed permanently in water mains to detect changes in sound that signal hard-to-pinpoint leaks. The technology is derived from hydrophones which are conventionally used by the navy for submarine navigation, underwater mapping, and communication.

According to Anglian, the noise loggers overcome the hurdles to detecting leaks in plastic pipes which make up 60% of the company's mains.

Head of leakage at Anglian, Sean McCarthy, said: “We’re now into the realms of tracking down really hard-to find leaks, long before they’re visible to the naked eye. Ultimately they will form a cornerstone of our leakage strategy and work alongside our other technology, like thermal imaging drones and satellite imagery to help us save millions of litres of water.”

Anglian plans to fit some 3,500 loggers in its network over the next 18 months with a further tranche in planning. It anticipates that the technology will enable it to reduce its leakage levels by a further 22% before 2025. Anglian said it will employ an additional 200 leakage technicians over the coming months to help with this work.

Anglian has developed in-house, a dedicated modelling system that calculates the optimum points across the water mains network to place the sensors.