Southern Water has committed to tripling the rate of leakage reduction on its network through investment in new identification technologies and increasing the size of its teams dealing with water loss.
The measures will help the organisation stay on track to meet its pledge of halving leakage by 2050, the ultimate target of a staged plan aiming for a 15 percent reduction by 2025 and 40 percent by 2040.
Southern Water supplies 563 million litres of drinking water per day to more than two million customers via nearly 14,000 kilometres of pipework, almost the same distance from England to Australia.
During 2020-21, Southern Water installed 7,400 new acoustic sensors to help identify leaks on its vast network. These noise loggers listen for the sound of leaks and help pinpoint the source, enabling maintenance teams to fix the problem.
Leak alarms are also being fitted to more water meters, extending a scheme which has already saved millions of litres of water per day.
Southern Water is installing 100,000 new smart meters by 2025 and investing £14 million to support household leak detection and encourage water saving.
Smart meters give customers a greater understanding of the amount of water they are using. This encourages and helps households to use less, ensuring they take only what they need whilst at the same time reducing water bills.
Other technologies being adopted include advanced pressure management, giving Southern better control over the pressure on the network.
Leakage is often greatest where pressure is high. Being able to remotely alter and optimise pressure reduced the chances of leaks and bursts occurring.
Southern Water are also working with Clancy to deploy a new leak repair method. A vacuum excavation machine speeds up repairs in a safe and efficient way by causing less surface disruption.
Leaking pipe repair on the Southern Water network is carried out by a 200-strong team who work around the clock to fix problems as soon as they are identified.
Warm weather provides a particularly big challenge, making every drop of water even more precious. In the past three months, Southern Water claim to have fixed 5,443 bursts and leaks (1094 in Hampshire, 420 on the Isle of Wight, 1660 in Kent and 2269 in Sussex) at an average of more than 44 per day.
Regional demand manger at Southern Water Phil Tapping said: “We’ve worked hard over the last few years and have reduced the amount of treated water lost through leakage, including repairing more than 63 leaks a day, every day, for the last year.”
“It’s important for people to know that we are chasing down every leak we can at the same time as we’re asking them to think twice about the length of their shower or not using a hose to water the garden or clean the car.”