Sustainability

Leakage reduction

We’re passionate about reducing leakage. We’re targeting a 15% reduction by 2025, and 50% by 2045 to meet the needs of our long term water management, and the expectations of our customers.

The leakage reduction challenge

Leakage reduction is key for our customers. It consistently emerges as a high priority across multiple research projects, social media analysis and operational insight. 

During our business plan research, 55% of customers said that reducing leakage was their top priority. 

If we reduce leakage, it demonstrates that we protect our resources and ensure there is enough water to meet future demand. 

How we’re reducing leakage

The main focus this year has been the roll out of our new water network operating model which is designed to drive greater ownership of the network by local teams, how work is categorised and enhancing our planning and scheduling activity.

We’ve also focused on finding more ways to calm our network through pressure management. This is particularly key around our distribution pumps which can create shocks in the pipe network resulting in bursts at any weak points. 

Reducing the overall pressure and finding ways to mitigate the impact as pump speeds are changed is really important if we’re to reduce leakage even further.

These changes have delivered a 15% increase in field teamproductivity and provide a greater focus on those proactive tasks that build resilience and result in a calmer network.

Using technology to find and fix leaks

To improve our network, we are focusing on finding leaks earlier – ideally, before they begin to cause a problem – and fixing them as fast as possible. Our ‘find and fix’ mode of working has benefited from the roll-out of 40,000 data loggers, and the UK’s first trial of fibre optics in water mains in February 2020, to listen for leaks and alert our teams.

This has been complemented by using video call technology to enable customers to contact us to report leaks and show our leakage technicians the situation using their smartphone. This helps our teams to diagnose the problem, plan and prioritise our response more effectively.

Our network optimisation hasn’t stopped there as we have also optimised pressure reducing valves across the network, which was successful in reducing leakage by 35% in one area alone. 

Through industry benchmarking and a global search for innovation, we can now identify potential leaks through dynamic pressure modelling, use of advanced analytics to combine billions of data records to target leakage and our continued use of satellite technology. 

This includes partnering with electricity distribution firms who survey the grid from the air – a great vantage point to spot potential leaks in rural areas. 

We’re exploring unique ways of using the information, including the potential to overlay our pipe network data into the video software to support automation of the analysis. 

We’re also rolling out advanced technology which enables us to either reduce or stop leakage completely on private pipework without the need to dig up the pipe.

Innovating with global partners

We have recently launched the World Water Innovation Fund - joining forces with like-minded companies across the globe to find new ways of working.

We’re pooling resources and collaborating on ideas to develop and accelerate new technologies. 

Our £5 million investment in the World Water Innovation Fund will make a real difference to peoples’ lives across the world. The Fund’s initial focus will be on leakage, which is a key issue for water companies worldwide.

 

 

 

 

Halving leakage by 2045

We’re passionate about reducing leakage. We’re targeting a 15% reduction by 2025, and 50% by 2045 to meet the needs of our long term water management, and the expectations of our customers. 

It is clear that a traditional approach focused on the balance of mains renewal and Active Leakage Control will not be enough. 

We’ll need radical innovation and new technology to achieve this goal. It will be a journey that is both exciting as well as extremely challenging.