New report outlines how water companies will halve leakage by 2050


Water companies in England have published ‘a landmark report’ which provides a framework for the companies to meet their commitment to triple the rate of leakage reduction by 2030 and halve leakage by 2050.

The 2030 target was set out in the 2019 Public Interest Commitment, while the 2050 pledge has been endorsed by the National Infrastructure Committee.

Christine McGourty, Water UK Chief Executive, commented on the report: “Water companies are committed to doing everything they can to radically reduce leakage over the coming years and decades.

“Great progress has already been made and companies are increasingly putting innovation and technology at the heart of their efforts. Intelligent networks, smart sensors, satellite technology and drones are all part of the armoury that’s being deployed to detect and fix leaks faster than ever and at lower cost

“Reducing leakage is a huge challenge for the sector and the Leakage Routemap provides a vital blueprint for companies and their supply chain to work together to achieve these ambitious goals.”

The Leakage Routemap contains several actions for water companies to meet their 2030 goal, including:

  • Improved quantification of background levels of leakage
  • Improved quantification of customer side leakage
  • Development of a sector-wide code of practice on how to lay mains pipes without leaks
  • Development of a strategy to tackle customer supply pipe leakage

Reducing leakage presents a significant technological challenge, and with 346,455 kilometres of water pipes, enough to go around the world eight and a half times, water companies are adopting some of the latest technology and innovation to reach every leak, including:

  • Anglian Water is combining AI and data science with the latest fixed sensor technologies, including the world’s largest network of permanent noise sensors, to develop a systems approach to leakage prevention and management.
  • Portsmouth Water have invested heavily in fixed acoustic noise logging. Their fixed network fleet now covers 50% of their entire network (including 90% of metallic pipes) helping to drive leakage down to a company record-low.
  • SES Water has partnered with Vodafone to create an intelligent water-distribution network to help them detect and fix leaks.
  • Northumbrian Water are using satellite technology to help detect leaks in their Suffolk and Essex region.
  • Yorkshire Water are trialling artificial intelligence to detect leaks more effectively. The project has shown that the number of false alarms has the potential to be reduced by up to 60% and the system can simultaneously identify more true leaks.

More information about this announcement and the ‘Leakage Routemap to 2050’-report is available on the Water UK website.