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UK water firm uses drones to identify leaking pipes

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Anglian Water is using drones to identify inaccessible leaks before going to fix them.
The drone surveys have been conducted around Ardleigh reservoir, Colchester, UK, with nearly 40,000 km of water pipe to survey.
Much of this pipeline is found in rural and remote areas and the aerial drone technology can help reduce the cost and time taken to find a leak by pinpointing its location more precisely.
Anglian Water is investing millions of pounds in advanced technology, including the drones, as well as pressure management and system optimisation.
The teams in Colchester will use drones to take images, which are then stitched together for geospatial analysis.
Leakage delivery support manager for Anglian Water Chris Utton said: “We’ve been using drones to find underground, hidden leaks since 2017.
“Our previous work usually focused on thermal imaging, to find different temperature patterns – but this year’s drought has given us the opportunity to spot leaks in a new way.
“Our drones are looking for unusual flora growth which, during periods of dry weather like we’ve seen this summer, can indicate leaks on our water mains.”
This summer has been the East of England’s driest year since 1976. In the last eight months, the region has had just 74% of its expected average rainfall. That’s 117mm less than expected and roughly equivalent to two and a half months less rainfall than usual.
Anglian Water is also investing £400 million (€456 million) into laying hundreds of kilometres of new, interconnecting pipes that will bring water from the wettest areas in the north of its region to the driest areas in the south and east, including Essex, by 2025.