Leaks are a major problem for Britain’s pipework systems, with over 3.17 billion litres of water lost in 2018-19. The United Kingdom’s water companies now have a new friend in the battle to reduce that figure – leak noise loggers.
Here is everything you need to know about the technology which is helping to save millions of litres of water every day across Great Britain.
What are leak noise loggers?
Leak noise loggers are listening devices which can be used to permanently monitor the water network for leaks.
The technology is considerably more sensitive than the human ear and by monitoring pipes at night when background noise tends to be at a minimum, noise loggers have a far greater chance of detecting leaks.
How do noise leak loggers work?
When a leak develops, it generates a noise at a consistent amplitude. Noise loggers will pick up this noise, alerting a water company to a potential problem within their network.
By deploying noise loggers at specific points of a pipework system, you can effectively monitor the entire network.
Technicians can analyse the data logged by the technology, often allowing them to pinpoint the exact location of a leak down to several metres.
What are the benefits of noise loggers?
One of the reasons why leaks result in so much lost water is because they can often take weeks or months to show. The longer it takes to identify a leak, the greater amount of water can escape.
Noise loggers identify leaks practically as soon as they occur. The technology could spot a leaking pipe on a Monday night and by Tuesday afternoon, a maintenance team could have attended to the problem and carried out an emergency pipe repair.
Without noise loggers, that same leak might go undetected until a company noticed a significant loss of water from the area or visible signs of a leak appeared on the surface.
They would then need to locate the leak and carry out a repair, a process which in some cases can take months from the initial leak occurring to a water company pinpointing it.
How effective are noise loggers?
Noise loggers are so effective that it seems inevitable that every water company in the United Kingdom will eventually install them on their networks.
Since installing noise loggers on 25% of their underground pipes, Portsmouth Water recorded a 19% reduction in their leakage figure in 2019-20.
Head of Water Resources Jim Barker said, “We are now finding leaks from our pipes and making a repair before they show on the surface and anyone else is even aware of them.”
Anglian Water have enjoyed similar leak reduction success since introducing noise loggers. Between 2018 and 2019, the company installed 2,023 loggers which registered 1,600 potential leaks.
1,325 of those required repair with the technology saving an estimated 1.4 million litres of water per day – a 35% reduction.
Richard Fielding of Anglian Water told Water World that the technology “is enabling us to make a real step-change in how we manage leakage.”
“In addition to locating previously undetectable leaks on plastic pipes, we are improving the service we provide our customers by detecting and repairing leaks before they become visible.”
What happens once nose loggers detect a leaking pipe?
Once noise loggers have detected a leaking pipe, the next challenge comes with fixing it. This is becoming an increasingly easy task too thanks to the development of pipe repair technology.
Pipe repair kits which can permanently fix a pipe inside 30 minutes even when pressure cannot be turned off provide water companies with an easy-to-use solution.
Combine the ease with which a noise logger can detect a leak with the speed in which a SylWrap pipe repair kit can fix the problem and you can stop a leak in less than 24 hours. Horror stories of water mains leaking for 15 years without repair will become a thing of the past.
In its five-yearly review of the water industry, the water regulator Ofwat set an ambitious target of reducing leaks by 16% by 2025. At the time, that seemed like a remarkably ambitious objective – but thanks to the adoption of noise loggers, it suddenly seems more than achievable.