Satellites are helping to detect leaks in South Staffordshire and Cambridge

South Staffs Water is reaching for the stars by using state-of-the-art satellite leak detection technology in its aim to cut leakage by at least 15%.

In its five-year business plan, South Staffs Water has committed to reduce leakage by 15% through a combination of pressure management, innovation, active leakage control and mains replacement.

One of the innovative methods being used is Utilis’ satellite leak detection technology, brought to the UK by SUEZ, which has been adapted from technology used to search for water on other planets.

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.

James Curtis, leakage strategy manager at South Staffs Water and Cambridge Water, said: “We’ve carried out a very thorough analysis of satellite leak detection. We quantified the improvements in efficiency, effectiveness and cost benefits and we compared it with other technologies to decide what’s best for us. We are now confident to use it as part of our ‘business as usual’ toolbox for reducing leakage.”

Nick Haskins of SUEZ Smart & Environmental Solutions commends South Staffs Water on their approach: “We were delighted to work South Staffs Water on this project. James Curtis and the team at South Staffs Water were open to testing this innovative technology from Utilis and their analysis has shown how valuable satellite leak detection can be.”

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