Yorkshire Water has set itself a target of a 40% reduction in leakage by 2025 after customer feedback indicated it is one of the key areas they would like to see improvement on.
The firm listened to the views of over 18,000 customers with 85% describing leakage as an important issue.
Across Yorkshire, there are over 31,000km of mains network that deliver over one billion litres of water every day to homes and business across the region.
The firm has to deal with approximately 120 leaks per day to help protect water supplies and over the last five years, the firm has had to repair on average 5,400 watermain per annum.
So with a hefty target Yorkshire Water is making some big investments underground, overground and even in space!
The firm is to hire approximately 70 new leakage inspectors. Already, 40 leakage inspectors have been employed and up to 30 more will be recruited in the coming months.
Once all the vacancies have been filled, it will bring the firm’s total team of leakage inspectors to 230, who together with an additional team of 113 field technicians.
Yorkshire Water is also investing in technology and has fitted over 600 ‘acoustic ears’ to the firm’s underground water pipe network in Bradford, Halifax and Huddersfield.
The new technology was installed one month ago and has already helped identify and fix 35 underground leaks, saving approximately 86,400 litres of water from being wasted.
Across Yorkshire, 4,500 loggers are currently being installed with plans by Yorkshire Water to fit up to 40,000 within the next 12 months. It is hoped by the company that this technology will reduce its overall leakage rate by up to 10 per cent, with a target to save ten million litres of water per day by 2025.
Jason Griffin, Leakage Technology Manager at Yorkshire Water, said: “Each acoustic ‘ear’, or logger, is capable of identifying a leak within a 150 meters radius, which is much more accurate than current technology allows. It will give us a much greater understanding and visibility of what is happening in some of the areas most prone to leaks in Bradford, Huddersfield and Halifax and allows us to respond better and reduce disruption to our customers.”
Yorkshire Water is also making investments in the air to spot those leaks.
it is deploying high flying technology in the form of drones to help it identify leaks on its underground pipe network in York and Rotherham.
The drones (UAVs) will fly along 30km of underground water pipes stretching from York to Rotherham. They are used to conduct topographical surveys and geo-locate hard to find assets such as inspection chambers, which will enable Yorkshire Water to spot leaks that it might not previously have known about.
Simon Roxby, UAV Manager at Yorkshire Water said: “The use of drone technology is increasing every day throughout the business and provides great visibility of hard to reach parts of our pipe network, our reservoirs and our land. This innovation not only gives us a greater understanding regarding the condition of our infrastructure, but also allows us to inspect and survey at height in a safer and more efficient way.”
Specialised sensors will be fitted into the drones with this information used to create 3D models of pipe networks to help detect leaks.
Adam Tate UAV Operations Manager at Team UAV added: “The technology we’re using to deliver this project on behalf of Yorkshire Water is truly ground-breaking. By fusing together a range of high precision sensors with millimetre accuracy, flown concurrently, we’re able to deliver data that isn’t visible to the human eye.”
Moving even higher and beyond the stratosphere, Yorkshire Water is also trialling space-age technology to find leaks.
The company partnered with Israeli company, Utilis, represented in UK by Suez Advanced Solutions, which is a world leader in satellite water leakage detection to test out the technology on its pipes in Halifax and Keighley.
Traditionally, the technology is used to look for water on other planets including Mars, but is now being tested by water companies looking to innovate to help reduce leaks from pipes.
The trial in Yorkshire helped identify 44 underground pipe leaks in both town’s that were then quickly fixed by Yorkshire Water’s response team. It was calculated by the firm that this helped save 330,000 litres of water a day escaping from its network.
Eddy Segal, Vice-President of Sales at Utilis, explained how the technology works: “We use a Japanese satellite that carries a microwave RADAR, capable of penetrating into the ground to the level of the water pipes. For the trial with Yorkshire Water we specifically analysed the area of Halifax and Keighley for leakage. We are pleased to work with Yorkshire Water who are one of the leading companies when it comes to the important issue of leakage reduction.”
Jason Griffin, Yorkshire Water’s Leakage Team Leader in West Yorkshire said: “Most leaks from our pipes do not come to the surface and so are hard to identify. However, this satellite was able to detect underground water leaks from our pipes within a 100m radius, which makes it much easier for our leakage inspectors to then pinpoint and repair. On the back of this, 44 leaks were repaired and this helped stop a significant volume of water escaping into the ground.”
Another way of preventing water escaping is by investing in its pipes.
The underground network of water pipes in Leeds are getting a £1.4m 21st century makeover to help cope with a huge spike in demand for water, with around 12 million litres of water consumed each day in the city centre alone.
It will involve six ‘smart’ valves being installed across six key areas of the water pipe network in the city centre including Wellington Road, Clarendon Road, Pontefract Lane, Woodhouse Lane, Hunslet Lane and University Road.
The £1.4m project is being carried out to help meet the rise in demand for water due to expansion in the city centre and new leisure and retail openings such as Leeds Arena and Trinity Leeds shopping centre.
Due to higher volumes of water consumed, Yorkshire Water has noticed occasional water pressure issues in its underground pipe network, particularly around the Woodhouse area when a major concert at Leeds Arena is on.
However, the scheme will solve the problem by installing remotely controlled ‘smart’ valves into the water network. These valves will help control the flow of water, which will prevent pressure surges that can occasionally lead to burst pipes and supply disruptions.
Jayne Blackburn, project manager at Yorkshire Water said: “This is an exciting new project for Yorkshire Water and will give us greater intelligence about how our water pipe network in the city centre operates.
“One interesting location that these valves are being installed is Woodhouse Lane. The water pipe here provides water to Leeds Arena and when the arena is being used the demand for water in this area goes up significantly and so supply is crucial to ensure events can take place.”
The project involves specialist sensors being installed in the pipes that are capable of remotely talking to the valves to open and close them and in doing so control water flow.
Innovation is at the heart of what Yorkshire Water does and there are set to be more major investments soon, both on earth and beyond!