Satellite water leak detection

Help achieve AMP7 water leakage reduction targets with SUEZ, the UK's partner for ASTERRA’s award winning satellite leak detection, Recover.
AMP7 demands at least a 15% reduction in water leakage target. SUEZ satellite leak detection is a proven technology that can provide a step-change in reducing leakage when compared to traditional active leakage control.

Utilising patented algorithms originally developed to detect water on other planets, ASTERRA Recover imaging overlays satellite images onto existing GIS maps and allows users to accurately pinpoint leaks from the drinking water network. ASTERRA technology can detect ‘water mixed with soil’ and is as effective in the urban and rural environments.

Proved to be more accurate and less labour-intensive than other traditional active leakage control (ALC) methods, satellite water leak detection will help with the shortage of trained leakage technicians and allow you to prioritise your resources in a more effective way.
Achieving AMP7 goals

Achieving AMP7 goals

Today, water companies need to be seen to be doing the right thing for their consumers; stemming water loss is therefore good for everyone and OFWAT has encouraged this by setting a 15% target in AMP7.

Water leakage continues to be a challenge for utility companies and the increased target of AMP7 has required water companies to dramatically reconsider their leakage plans. We are currently working with the majority of UK water companies to help them achieve their AMP7 regulatory targets.

Acoustic water leak detection is not enough

Acoustic water leak detection, although effective for certain parts of the network, rely on metallic pipework. Non-metallic pipework is significantly harder to detect using acoustics. Acoustics cannot scan a whole network the way satellite technology does.

Traditional active leakage control teams are over stretched

The role of the active leakage control technician is getting more challenging as a result and this is one of the reasons why there is a high turnover of ALC technicians - impacting on the efficiency of effective leak control. What’s needed is a combination of technology and specialist technicians.

How to achieve your target MLD with fewer technicians

As leakage reduction targets get higher, active leakage control technicians get harder to recruit – as well as retain. Technology is one answer to this issue – satellite leak detection, where employed, has shown to have at least a threefold increase in effectiveness.

Satellite water leak detection has moved from niche to normal

For many UK companies, satellite leak detection has moved from being an innovative niche product to a normal, regular operating mode because of the challenging targets. AMP7 is challenging for many water companies but we know AMP8 will be hard too. The industry has a target of zero leakage by 2050.



What is satellite water leak detection?

What is satellite water leak detection?

SUEZ is the leading leak detection company in the UK and utilises patented technology which converts satellite radar signals to detect leakages from pipes – even up to 3m below the surface of the ground. Scanning up to 350,000 km2 in one pass, SUEZ is the UK’s sole reseller of ASTERRA satellite leak detection solution, one of the world’s leading satellite underground scanning and leak detection suppliers.

ASTERRA satellite leak detection

ASTERRA Recover is an award-winning satellite leak detection system. Its patented satellite leak detection algorithms were originally developed to detect water on other planets by parent company Utilis. Now this technology has been harnessed for water leak detection from pipelines of all types.

Utilis leak detection technology from space


How does satellite leak detection work?

How does satellite leak detection work?

Spectral satellite imagery is obtained from an array of satellites used for all types of geographical and marine surveying. These primarily use L-band radar.

A patented series of filters and algorithms interprets this data to show only ‘drinking water mixed with soil’, and finally overlays it onto client-supplied maps of the chosen network or District Meter Area (DMA), resulting in a display of ‘points of interest’ (POI) that need investigating by specially trained ALC technicians.

The satellite leak detection maps are displayed in an easy-to-use app, accessed on a smartphone.

Resources are focused to POIs provided by the app, after which technicians use existing tools to pinpoint the precise location of the leak, most of which are hidden below the surface.

1. Satellite images are acquired

Raw images are captured using synthetic aperture radar (SAR) sensors on the satellite. The sensors send out L-band signals that react differently when they hit ‘water mixed with soil’.

2. Radiometric corrections are made and data is analysed

Data from the satellites is analysed and filtered. The analysis is to accurately gain the dielectric constant of everything scanned. Potable water has a specific dielectric constant, differing from everything else – even seawater, lake water or river water. This, therefore, is how we identify where the leaks are likely to be.

3. Leakage report is produced

The location of each potential leak is overlaid onto a geographical map, allowing areas to be identified by the ground crew. The report can be presented in a variety of formats including industry-standard GIS files, or via a desktop application.

4. Ground crew quickly cover pin-pointed leak sites

The location of each leakage site is overlaid onto a street map of a region and this is then sent to an app on the ALC technician’s phone. This gives a 100m area to cover to pinpoint the leak. Thus far, more than 57,200 leaks have been verified since 2017.
Benefits of satellite leak detection

Benefits of satellite leak detection

Once the specially-trained technicians arrive in the area of the leak they use existing methods of detection (like acoustic water leak detection) to pinpoint the leak.

Typically, utilising satellite leak detection considerably reduces the amount of technicians required. Leak technicians do not have to walk the whole DMA; they only need to cover 5% of the area.

More satisfying job for ALC technician

More job satisfaction and therefore less staff churn. For the technician, having a more targeted approach creates a more positive working environment with the added benefit of knowing that every leak found helps save natural water resources.

More effective ground crews

Many times more efficient – they go straight to the leak. More leaks found per crew day.

Achievable AMP7 targets

A recent analysis of a satellite leak detection project covering 8,000 km pipes scanned for one water company = 5.5 ML/d saving

Cheaper than fixed acoustic listening devices

Fixed acoustic listening devices can be very expensive compared to satellite leak detection. At SUEZ, we’d be pleased to present to you the cost-effectiveness of the ASTERRA Recover leak detection system. Satellite leak detection gives you the ability to cover the whole network regardless of geographical area.

Cheaper than acoustic leak detection

Against using acoustic leak detection, we can prove the cost-effectiveness of satellite water leak detection, not only in staff costs but more importantly, in water saved.

Can be repeated regularly with fresh data

Regular scanning with ASTERRA Recover ensures you keep an up-to-date snapshot of the state of your network – and you get a snapshot of the total network – impossible with traditional surveying methods.
Case Studies

South Staff Water chose SUEZ satellite leak detection

In one of the projects, South Staffordshire Water has a 6000 km distribution and trunk mains network and engaged SUEZ, who delivered a saving of 2 ML/d using satellite water leak detection.

Solution – Satellite leak detection pinpointed 6 times more leaks a day

After SUEZ had run satellite imagery leak detection, the number of leaks identified was between 2.5 and 3.5 per crew day – a massive increase from the average 1.3 per day using traditional acoustic methods, and saving around 950 million cubic metres of water since 2017.

Results – Volume of leaks found 7 times greater with satellite leak detection

The volume of leaks without satellite was 0.04 l/s vs. 0.28 l/s with satellite, thanks to the underground infrastructure analysis delivered by the ASTERRA Recover system. Since 2017, more than 57,200 leaks had been verified.

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