In the UK, identifying more leaks with Satellite Leak Detection

South Staffs Water is a major UK utility company that supplies supply over half a million homes with clean, fresh water. Discover why this company chose to use satellite leak detection on 6000km of distribution and trunk mains pipework, as part of its leakage reduction plans.
The mission

An ambitious objective of water leakage reduction

In their five-year Asset Management Plan (AMP), South Staffs Water, incorporating Cambridge Water, committed to reduce water leakage. The target is to reduce total leakage by a minimum of 15% from 2019/20 levels by 2024/25. This transformational reduction is to be achieved through a combination of prevention and active leakage control, identifying innovation in both areas to improve efficiency.

South Staffs Water supplies drinking water to 1.3m people and approximately 35,000 commercial customers over 1,500 square km in the West Midlands, South Staffordshire, South Derbyshire, North Warwickshire and North Worcestershire areas.



minimum of leakage reduction by 2024/2025
Our response

Using state-of-the-art satellite leak detection technology

The Leakage Strategy Manager from South Staffs Water turned to SUEZ for assistance and were introduced to Utilis’* satellite leak detection technology. To verify the new technology the water company conducted extensive trials and subsequently implemented the technology across two parts of their territory, a total of 6000km of distribution and trunk mains pipework. Several project parameters were measured and compared with regular leak detection without satellite aid.

The system uses radar sensors to penetrate the first few metres of earth and look for the unique signature of underground drinking water to show where leaks could be. Leaks can be detected under tarmac, earth, concrete or brick. The system produces satellite images covering 3,500km which are sent directly to the water company’s field staff who can then investigate the area and pinpoint the leak. This innovative technology has been adapted from the search for water on other planets, underscoring its high reliability and outstanding capability here on Earth.

This approach provides a non-invasive method to the problem of water network leakage. When compared with other leak detection methodologies, satellite-based leak detection has many benefits:

  • No preparation or upfront investment
  • Lower operational costs
  • Identification of more leaks per day
  • Increased efficacy from existing field technicians
  • Survey of entire systems up to six times a year
  • No disruption to customers.

6 000


of distribution and trunk mains pipework covered
“We’ve carried out a very thorough analysis of Utilis/SUEZ’s satellite leak detection. We clearly understand the benefits it can bring in detecting leaks and we are confident in using it as part of our toolbox for reducing leakage.” James Curtis, Leakage Strategy Manager at South Staffs Water

Satellite leak detection explained in 5 steps:

The results

Over 2 million litres per day saved

The leaks are detected across all types of asset types (mains, customer, valve, hydrant, etc), and all types of ground cover (tarmac, earth, concrete, brick, etc), and also across all pipe materials.

South Staffs Water are also looking to deploy satellite leak detection on an annual basis and ad-hoc runs for short, focussed campaigns in difficult district metered areas.

over 2


litres per day saved
saving per ML/d saved
* SUEZ is the official distributor of the Utilis Corporation satellite leak detection system in the UK and Ireland

Photo credit: Jaxa