Anglian Water uses satellites to detect hard-to-find water leaks

Anglian Water reports saving millions of litres of water with space-based detection of water leaks that are otherwise invisible.

The company, which supplies water to almost 7 million people mainly in the east of England, launched the programme in December 2022. Based on two complete scans of its service area has reported saving over 2Ml/d – enough to supply 8,000 homes in the region.

Chris Utton, Leakage Intensive Delivery Manager for Anglian Water, says that as much of the company’s region is rural, the satellites are particularly helping to detect any leaks in these areas where traditional monitoring is much more difficult.

“Over the last 30 years, we’ve reduced leaks in our network by 38%, despite putting a third more water into supply to meet the increasing demand of our rapidly growing customer base,” he says.

Have you read?
Ofwat accelerates rollout of 462,000 smart water meters in England
Squeezing valuable drops out of smart water innovation

“We know we must go even further as it’s one of the most important things to our customers and the wider environment. Gone are all the low-hanging fruits and quick wins, we’re now into the realms of tracking down really hard-to-find leaks, long before they’re visible to the naked eye, to fix them quicker and save as much precious water as possible.”

Anglian Water is working with water solution company SUEZ and California-based earth observation data provider Asterra – the only service in the world to use L-Band synthetic aperture radar (SAR) with patented technology and analysis to find leaks from the satellite images.

The satellites work by sending a pulse down from space and measuring interaction with materials on the Earth as backscatter, in this case the signature of drinking water below the Earth’s surface, which may suggest a hidden leak in the water network.

The satellite imagery is expected to form a regular component in Anglian Water’s leak detection armoury but ultimately it is only one of them, with others including thermal imaging drones and naval hydrophone equipment.

Anglian Water was also recently allocated funding to expand its smart meter rollout as part of its leak reduction plans.

Since the first smart meters were installed in 2020, the company has reported helping customers find and resolve more than 100,000 leaks at their properties.

Space explorationwater leakage