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Anglian Water trials fibre optic cables to detect water leaks

UK utility Anglian Water has commenced a trial using fibre optic cables to detect leaks in the provider’s water pipe network.

In partnership with Kier, a leading provider of construction and infrastructure services, and CRALEY Group, the new trial builds on Anglian Water’s innovation in next generation leakage engineering.

CRALEY Group’s iSMTM technology is being trialled on a model section of pipework, designed by Kier, on an Anglian Water site in Lincolnshire in the UK. The model will allow engineers to test the endurance and capability of the fibre optics and allow them to hone the technical process of installing and removing the fibre optics from the pipeline.

Once the fibre optic sensor cable is fed into water pipes, the iSMTM technology is able to continually monitor the pipeline for leaks and other events in the network by creating thousands of virtual sensors along the section of pipeline being monitored.

The information from these sensors is processed in real-time with immediate reporting of any new leaks or events of interest. Depending on the trial results, work could progress to full-scale operational trials in a live water network.

“This technology has the potential to revolutionise the way we find and fix leaks across our water network and we’re hoping it will be a fitting addition to our Smart network strategy, it’s exciting times,” commented Hayley Bruce, project manager for Anglian Water.

“Despite being the best in the business, we know we must go even further as it’s one of the most important things to our customers and the wider environment. Anglian Water was the first company to use thermal imaging drones and naval hydrophone technology to help us find leaks – this could be the next tool in our armoury in the war against leakage.

“In terms of leaks, because we’re industry leading, gone are all the low-hanging fruits and quick wins, we’re now into the realms of tracking down really hard to find leaks, long before they’re visible to the naked eye. Over the last five years we’ve invested £120 million (€140.7 million) in driving down leakage, and our targets are now even tougher. We’re working towards further reduction of over 15% by 2025 meaning we’ll be a world leader in low levels of leakage.

“We’re exploring every avenue of engineering available to us to continually be better, and technology like this could revolutionise our ability to meet those tough targets.”