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Northumbrian Water is taking an ‘out of this world’ approach to leak detection…quite literally.

In its battle to combat leakage the water company has teamed up with Utility Giants SUEZ UK and Satellite experts Utilis to harness the power of space satellites and help spot leaks here on earth.

Using the same outer space technology that helps find water on other planets, Northumbrian Water and the partners will focus satellites on a stretch of the company’s network in County Durham and rural Northumberland.

The satellites, which can capture detailed images that cover 3,500 square km at once, will analyse the imagery to detect leaks and unusual amounts of water on the networks and pinpoint them to a team of leakage technicians on the ground who will follow up, carry investigations and repairs.

The first phase of activity will be focusing primarily on trunk mains as these are the big pipes that often run through quite rural areas of the region and are particularly difficult to identify leaks on due to the terrain and geography of the region.

The whole process happens really quickly, with no impact to any customers.

The survey from space could result in problematic leaks in some of the most remote areas of the region being fixed and water being saved quicker than ever before.

Northumbrian Water’s Network Performance Technical Specialist Joseph Butterfield said: “This is extremely exciting technology that opens up a whole world of leakage detection benefits for us and we’re delighted to be working with Suez UK on the project and to see what we find and can fix.

“The sheer speed of the process, the detail it gives and the distances the images cover is fantastic and should really help us improve our performance around finding and fixing leaks and saving water.”

Nick Haskins from SUEZ UK, who are exclusive representatives of Utilis in the U.K. and Ireland, is delighted to be partnering with Northumbrian water on this innovation and cutting-edge technology, he said: “We’re very excited to be teaming up with Northumbrian Water on this project and are really excited to see what impact it can have on the company’s performance around leakage.

“Using satellite technology to locate and fix water leaks is the most up-to-date and innovative method there is out there and it gives water companies the ability to survey the whole water pipe network in a single operation. This, of course, has the added benefit of being completely discreet to the customer and without any disruption to them.”

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