Water Industry News

Trackers Now Used To Monitor Health Of Pipe Networks

Water supplier United Utilities has announced that it will be making use of innovative technology known as the Critical Infrastructure Pipeline Protection System to track deterioration across its network of pipes to detect potential water bursts before they happen.


Apparently, sensors are strapped to the outside of the pipes and log data to work out just how healthy any given pipe actually is, monitoring the expansion and contraction of pipes in real time.


The technology has been pioneered in the north-west by Datatecnics, alongside United Utilities, with results from early trials held in Liverpool and Lancashire already generating industry interest.


Datatecnics, based in Manchester, used three plastic pipes of various ages and burst histories in its trials, the first fully digitised pipes in the world. The greatest value from this new system is expected to come from the monitoring of critically or strategically important mains pipes where the tech can enhance the resilience of the water supply.


New models are now being developed that will allow asset management teams and operational staff to forecast failure on pipelines, as well as making more accurate assessments of how healthy the wider network is.


United Utilities’ Steve Quarmby said: ““United Utilities has tens of thousands of miles of underground pipes made from a mix of materials that have been used over the years, from cast iron used by the Victorians to the plastic that’s common today.


“When they burst they cause inconvenience and disruption to our customers. When you put water under pressure in any pipe, it’s the pressure itself that can cause the damage. It makes pipes swell and contract. These stresses and strains over decades weaken the pipe and it’s the classic cause of failure.”


Of course, this is just one weapon that can be used in the fight against water leaks – and there are all sorts of strategies that firms employ to help tackle the problem head on.


For example, sniffer dogs are often used to find potential leaks along stretches of pipeline, able to smell chlorine coming up from the ground. Permanent loggers can also be placed in pipes that detect sounds in the pipework, sounding an alarm when a noise is heard, with leak detectives then sent out to investigate further.


Water leak detection and repair is essential given that three billion litres of water is lost in England alone each and every day. With urbanisation, climate change, population growth, pollution and agriculture all putting additional pressure on precious resources, prioritising better water management is an absolute must.


For businesses, this could include having a water audit carried out to see where water is being used and consumed onsite. Once armed with this knowledge, it becomes easier to introduce water-saving solutions over time. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch with the SwitchWaterSupplier.com team today.