Plugging the leaks
South West Water has been tapping into new and old techniques to stay top of the national league when it comes to reducing leakage.
Every year since anti-leakage targets were first set in 1999, South West Water has met or bettered its mark as well as being an industry leader in terms of fewest litres lost per day per kilometre of pipe.
National league tables published today by industry regulator Ofwat show again South West Water was on target during 2009/10 despite the challenge of the coldest winter in 30 years causing a 20% surge in burst pipes during January and February.
South West Water uses a mix of traditional leak detection methods – inspectors with listening sticks – and high technology including remote monitoring of the 15,000 kilometre long network from the company's headquarters in Exeter.
Flow meters constantly measure water passing through 750 geographic zones which helps calculate the location of bursts often deep underground and reduce the potential time lag between first suspecting a leak and arranging for repairs, resulting in less water loss.
Methods such as this that have helped South West Water reduce leakage by 60 per cent since the water distribution network was privatised in 1989.
Operations Director Stephen Bird said: "Being recognised as an industry leader on leakage again is testament to the year-round efforts of our staff particular during last winter.
"However the campaign against leakage simply never stops and we will be investing more than £7.5 million on maintaining our leakage record this year with the aim of fixing bursts within 24 hours and significant leaks within three days."
Notes to editors
- Measured on number of litres lost per day per kilometre of pipe, South West Water has one of the best records in the industry
- The annual Ofwat target for leakage is not to exceed 84 Megalitre's per day, including any water lost from customers' own pipes.