£290 million pledged in war on leaks

CAPTION: Denzel is one of the UK's first water sniffer dogs, helping United Utilities save 16 million litres of water a day

United Utilities is to invest £290 million in plans to reduce leakage by a record amount over the coming five years.

The water company has pledged to cut the amount of water that leaks from pipework by 15 per cent while at the same time reducing customer bills by 10 per cent.

The announcement comes as latest figures show that across the UK leakage levels have reduced by 7 per cent over the last year. United Utilities has met its regulatory leakage target for the last 14 consecutive years, and beaten its current target by 16 million litres a day.

Hannah Wardle is Leakage manager at United Utilities and she said: “Our customers tell us that fixing leaks is one of the most important things they expect of their water company, and it is hugely important to us too. 

“That’s why we are investing in the latest technology plus a new generation of leakage detection professionals to make sure we can rise to the challenge and do even better.

“We’re installing 100,000 loggers directly onto our water pipe network – that’s the equivalent of one logger every quarter of a mile. These will listen for the sound of water escaping and alert our engineers so that we can fix the leaks quickly.

“We’re going to be recruiting a further 45 new leakage detection engineers and, for the first time this year, that includes 20 new apprentices specifically dedicated to tackling leakage.”

United Utilities was fast-tracked by Ofwat and commended for its approach to innovation in its 2020 – 2025 business plan.  Leakage reduction has featured strongly amongst the new ideas trialled in the company’s Innovation Lab, including the UK’s first water sniffer dogs plus an AI tool called FIDO that helps engineers to analyse vast amounts of data to spot leaks more quickly.

The leakage reduction plan forms part of United Utilities’ five-year £5.5 billion investment in the North West’s water and wastewater networks. Between 2020 and 2025 the water company will continue to improve drinking water quality and resilience, reduce pollution and benefit the environment.