Finding a route to improved leakage performance

By Barbara Hathaway, Ovarro

Water companies have set out 2025-2030 leakage ambitions that, if achieved, would put them among the top five performing countries in Europe. With higher operational costs and resource challenges to factor in, the supply chain can offer a more efficient route to success.

Leakage reduction plans put forward by water companies in England and Wales aim to cut leakage by over a quarter by 2030, compared with the start of the decade

The proposals are an aspect of water companies’ 2025-2030 businesses plans, which, if approved by regulator Ofwat, would reportedly deliver the largest investment in the sector.

However, the transition from asset management periods, AMP7-AMP8, comes with more immediate challenges. Water companies must deliver a short sharp improvement by 2025, following Ofwat’s 2022-2023 performance report, which found the majority of companies had underperformed in leakage and other areas.

Ovarro works in partnership with UK water companies and understands they have been impacted by rising operational costs and labour market challenges. As-a-service solutions, such as Ovarro LeakNavigator, are becoming available in water to solve resource issues. The models are subscription-based, with infrastructure that is managed by an external supplier. LeakNavigator takes ownership of the upfront logger deployment planning and day-to-day data analysis, alerting technicians to points of interest. Having the analytics process managed by a supplier, frees up skilled leakage technicians to target their time on pinpointing leaks with a likelihood of success.

A reduction in non-revenue water (NRW) loss and, reducing the likelihood of regulatory penalties for missed targets, are also efficiencies to be gained

Following its launch in February 2023, LeakNavigator is recording a combined performance increase of 20-25% in total leaks found, and a 30% reduction in lost field time through false positives and a point of interest to leak conversion rate of over 85%. The system is an example of how closer working with suppliers can bring more efficient outcomes.

Another example was the development of the Enigma3hyQ leak logger, in partnership with Anglian Water, to help solve the challenge of detecting leaks on plastic pipes. This was historically, one of the industry’s challenges as plastic pipes do not propagate leak noise in the same way as metal pipes.

Enigma3hyQ loggers use immersed hydrophone sensors that ‘listen’ to sound waves transmitted inside the pipe to pinpoint leaks and can pick up vibrations over longer distances. They are valuable for use on wider diameter pipes and over longer distances for both metallic and plastic pipes.

Early engagement will also influence suppliers’ own product roadmaps, achieving better outcomes