Yorkshire Water is looking to outer space to solve their water leak issues. The water company reports that approximately “20% of it was lost to leaks, which equated to 295 million liters a day in 2016/17”. (BBC.com) In an effort to locate the leakage, Yorkshire Water has collaborated with Israeli company Utilis. Utilis has quickly established themselves as a world leader in satellite water leakage detection.
Utilis uses aerial imaging from a Japanese satellite that carries a microwave radar, capable of penetrating into the ground at the same level of the water pipes. Once the images have been taken, they’re processed by unique algorithms designed to detect the spectral "signature" of treated water. This fascinating technology allows for images that cover 3,500 square kilometers all at once. The results are user-friendly GIS reports that identify water leaks with minimal manpower and resources.
The initial trial in the Halifax and Keighley areas of Yorkshire was a success. Utilis was able to identify 44 underground pipe leaks, which Yorkshire Water was then able to promptly repair. “The firm estimated this helped save 330,000 litres of water a day escaping from its network.” (UtilityWeek.co.uk)
Yorkshire Water has already put more cutting-edge technology to work, employing the use of drones to administer an aerial topographical survey of 30km of pipework from York to Sheffield. Their hope is to gather information to predict and prevent future water leaks.
The water company has also commissioned 15,000 acoustic ears to be installed within the company’s pipe network. These acoustic ears are capable of listening to the water and establish patterns so the company’s data scientists are able to identify unusual sound patterns that may be associated with leaks. Furthermore, Yorkshire has committed to hiring 50 new leakage inspectors to improve service.
Yorkshire Water isn’t the first water company to turn to satellites for leak detection, Last month, Severn Trent Water also trialled with Utilis as well as Rezatec to reach its target goal of a reduction of 15% in total leakage.