UK-based Severn Trent trials fibre optic cables inside water pipes

Severn Trent has announced the trial of fibre optic cables inside its pipes, as part of its efforts to cut down the number of leaks and bursts across its network.

Recently, the UK-based water company installed 750m of fibre optic cable inside a live section of its network. This was done to test its ‘listening’ capabilities over a four-hour period, where the impacts of leaks were simulated.

This trial of the ‘lift and shift’ fibre optic cable on a live main is claimed to be the first of its kind in the country.

The next step will see installation of a fibre optic cable that has an in-built CCTV camera. This would enable Severn Trent engineers to see as well as hear any potential problems inside the pipes.

The company, in its future trials for later in the year, will permanently install fibre optic cables across a bigger stretch of its network. This will enable the firm to monitor leaks around the clock, and detect leaks early and in great detail.

Severn Trent technical project lead Jo Claronino said: “Using fibre optic cables inside water pipes has the potential to identify leaks, pressure changes, temperature, vibrations and sound inside our pipes like never before.

“By ‘listening’ out for any of these changes, we think this technology has enormous potential to act as an early warning system across our network, helping us to pinpoint where these issues are and to carry out the repair before it develops into a bigger problem.

“It’s not just about leaks and bursts either. Fibre optics can also tell us when and where people are accessing our network illegally.”