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What we do about leaks

South West Water is an industry leader when it comes to tackling leakage and last year met its leakage target for the 12th year in a row - despite a surge in burst pipes following the coldest December in a century.

Every year £7.5 million is spent on detecting and tackling leaks both in our network and in pipes owned by customers. Water flowing through 750 geographic zones is tracked by thousands of monitors to help calculate the location of bursts, which are often deep underground, and reduce the time between first identifying a potential leak and repairs.

We use 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.

Repair work is prioritised according to several factors including the size of each burst and whether they are a threat to public safety or a traffic obstruction. Leaks are not only caused by burst pipes - water can seep to the surface from underground springs or be forced upwards due to ground movement.

We are determined to maintain our leakage record by aiming to fix large bursts within 24 hours and significant leaks within three days. Sometimes though we cannot repair leaks as fast as we would like because we have to seek road closure orders from highways authorities or arrange access with landowners.

Having thousands of pairs of eyes and ears helping us means we can pinpoint leaks and their causes quicker so please do your bit by reporting leaks.

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