Water is a vital part of our day-to-day life. As your water company, we have a responsibility to protect that water supply for now and future generations.
Part of that involves using innovative technology to find and fix leaks all over our region. Our team of leakage technicians work around the clock to make sure we're doing all we can to reduce and stop leakage.
What is leakage?
Leakage is the amount of water lost from pipes across the water network. We supply 517 million litres a day each day to 2.2 million customers across, through 14,500 kilometres of water pipes.
There are many factors that affect leakage, but the three main ones are:
Natural wear and tear on our network
There are six million joints which have to withstand high pressure 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Inevitably sometimes these pipes and joints fail unexpectedly but we work around the clock to repair them as quickly as possible.
In typical weather conditions, the colder winter months increase leakage due to pipes shrinking, causing the joints between them to open up. Equally, warmer temperatures can undo this effect to reduce leakage. This is expected to even out over the year but leads to peaks and troughs in leakage levels.
Extreme weather events
These can impact leakage over and above the typical seasonal rise and fall. A freeze followed by a rapid thaw can over-stress pipes causing them to burst. Similarly, prolonged hot dry periods can shrink the earth that supports pipes, causing them to move and break.
We're already among the top five water companies in the UK for our leakage performance, but we're always striving to do more.
Our leakage in 2018/19 was 86.9 megalitres a day (Ml/d), which is lower than in 2017/18 (87.7 Ml/d). We have delivered significant reductions in leakage during the past year, despite some unprecedented challenges. This includes a backlog of additional leaks resulting from the severe cold weather and sudden thaw caused by the Siberian ‘Beast from the East’.
To make sure we continue to beat and improve our leakage targets we'll be investing £17m over the next two years and have ambitious plans to halve the amount of leakage by 2050 to 44 million litres a day. This investment will go towards innovative technology to help us identify even the smallest of leaks. We’ll also aim to minimise leaks on our network by working to stabilise water pressures in our pipes.
Innovative ideas to tackle leakage
As well as working to drive down our leakage levels, we're always looking at innovative ideas to identify and repair leaks.
Below are just a few of the exciting projects that are currently taking place across the business.
An industry first, smart networks is not just smart metering. It’s a journey to visualise, analyse, monitor, predict and improve the real-time performance of our water network. Working with Vodafone UK we are the first utility in England to have a full NBIoT (Narrowband Internet of Things) commercial agreement in place.
The partnership will enable us to transmit data for analysis from digital water meters at 2,000 homes in a Kent trial area, as well as information from other network sensors.
If successful, smart networks has the potential to alert us to the smallest leaks on both our and our customers’ pipes soon after they occur, and could even enable us to predict and prevent pipeline failure before it happens.
We’ve been trialling out of this world satellite technology to help us find and fix leaks on our vast network of underground pipes.
The trial is being run in collaboration with a company called Suez, which specialises in innovative water technologies and solutions. Covering a large area of Kent (including Canterbury, Maidstone, Ashford and Tenterden) satellite technology from a company called Utilis is being used to detect leaks that could be tricky to find with traditional methods.
Using technology that is used to look for water on other planets, the images created can cover an amazing 2,200 square miles. Our Technicians in the area have an app on their phones which shows the location of the suspected leak and gives them the ability to record any they find so we can assess the results of the trial.
Hive Leak Alerts
We teamed up with Hive to offer our customers FREE Hive Leak Alerts for 12 months.
The innovative Hive Leak Sensors detect possible leaks in your plumbing and send alerts directly to your smartphone. Hive Leak Alerts use a smart, easy to fit sensor which monitors the flow of water around your home to proactively detect anything out of the ordinary which could be a potential leak – helping you to avoid wasting water and to stay one step ahead of costly water damage.
You'll receive a notification straight to your smartphone if anything unusual is detected, as well as troubleshooting tools and tips in the Hive app.
Innovate with us
We're working on a focused innovation strategy which targets our customers’ and stakeholders’ priorities, and will enable us to lead the industry.
As we enter our next five year business plan, we're keen to keep on innovating and increasing customer satisfaction. If you have an innovative product or service that could help us achieve our goals, we would be delighted to hear from you.
Report a leak
Spotted a leak while out and about? Whether it's big or small, we want to know about them all. Reporting issues in your area is easy with our live, interactive map.
Just enter your postcode or street name and mark the leak on the map.
Ensuring clean, fresh tap water continues to flow to our customers’ taps 24 hours a day, seven days a week is one of our top priorities. That’s why we're constantly working to upgrade old water mains, install new pipelines, improve our water treatment works and maintain our reservoirs.