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United Utilities rolls out ‘world’s largest’ acoustic loggers network

Credit: United Utilities
Credit: United Utilities

UK water and wastewater company United Utilities has revealed its plans for the world’s largest ‘listening’ project of its kind to tackle water leakage across its network.

The company will install approximately 100,000 acoustic loggers over the next two years across its underground water supply network, which comprises over 26,000 miles of pipes.

“We have one of the largest and oldest water supply networks in the UK and it’s a constant battle to keep on top of leaks,” said Kevin Fowlie, network delivery director at United Utilities. “Many leaks never show on the surface, so it is a round-the-clock challenge to find and fix them.

“Following the extreme dry weather last year we’ve seen leakage rates increase due to ground movement. We have doubled our leakage detection and repair resource to meet our leakage targets, and now we need to go even further.

“Our customers have told us it is one of the issues most important to them, so we have committed to a 20% reduction in leakage over the coming five year investment period, and that means using the latest innovations.

“By 2020 we will have the largest estate of acoustic logger technology in the world. Every quarter of a mile on our water network we will be able to glean real-time data, allowing us to respond faster and more accurately when a pipe begins to leak.”

In 2018, a trial of the technology saw 2,000 loggers installed in Liverpool and Manchester city centres, which are believed to have already saved up to 5 million litres of water per day.

During the first phase of the project, 44,000 loggers will be installed in summer 2019 across the North West of the UK, costing a total of £14 million (€15.5 million).

During the second phase, to be carried out during 2020, 50,000 loggers will be installed at a cost of £30 million (€33.3 million).

In addition to using acoustic loggers to detect leaks on its water network, United Utilities employs satellite technology and trained water sniffer dogs.

Credit: United Utilities