UK’s first water sniffer dogs part of United Utilities’ £290m investment to reduce leakage


UNITED Utilities is to invest £290 million in plans to reduce leakage over the coming five years through various means, including special sniffer dogs.

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, Leakage manager at United Utilities, commented on the announcement: “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.”

An ace up the company’s sleeve is Snipe, the first sniffer dog to help detect leakages across the company’s network with his trainer.

Besides being one of the UK’s first special water sniffer dogs, Snipe has helped to teach other dogs to help United Utilities to save more water.

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 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.