Leakage falls 7% to record low


Leakage fell 7% in 2019-20, according to Water UK which last week updated the Discover Water website with the industry’s latest performance information.


Water UK said last year saw the lowest ever reported level of leaks since records began in the mid 1990s; the overall volume of water being leaked fell by 216 million litres per day to 2,954 million litres. It showcased how companies are harnessing technology and innovation in the battle against losses, including data capture and analysis; thermal imaging drones; smart networks; satellite technology; and best practice sharing.


The sector has a 16% reduction target by 2025 as part of PR19; has committed under the Public Interest Commitment to triple the rate of leakage reduction by 2030; and has pledged to halve current levels by 2050. Water UK chief executive, Christine McGourty, said: “Enormous progress has been made in tackling leaky pipes, and that’s brought leakage levels down significantly in the last year. But the water industry is committed to doing much more, and companies are putting innovation and technology at the heart of a commitment to radically reduce leakage over the long-term. Intelligent networks, smart sensors, satellite technology and drones are all part of the armoury that’s being deployed to detect and fix leaks faster than ever and at lower cost.”


Chief executive of CCW, Emma Clancy, said: “After a decade of complacency the water industry finally appears to be showing the level of urgency we’ve been demanding on leakage. Water companies must step up the pace of improvement and help consumers understand the vital importance of saving water if we’re to overcome the growing pressures on our water supplies and the environment we take it from.”


An Ofwat spokesperson said: “We’re encouraged to see companies beginning to share information about best practice in finding and fixing leaks, and taking advantage of new opportunities provided by data analytics and new technology.  We hope they will do all they can to exceed the targets that have been set to 2025.  This is only a stepping stone towards halving leakage by 2050.”


Other Discover Water updates included:

  • drinking water quality remains very high, with 99.96% compliance;

  • supply interruptions were down from an average of 13 minutes in 2018/19 to an average of 12 minutes in 2019/20;

  • the amount of water used per person in England and Wales has fallen slightly, from 143 litres to 142 litres per day; and

  • sewer flooding increased by 14%. Water UK said: “While some companies saw a reduction, other parts of the country were more affected by extreme weather in the last year, including storms Ciara and Dennis.”