Leakage to be reduced by 40% as Yorkshire Water welcomes regulator’s challenge

An ambitious package has been announced by Yorkshire Water as it looks to reduce leakage by over 40 per cent by 2025 and become one of the leaders in the water industry.

Implementation of the plan starts with immediate effect. It is announced today (Dec 13) as industry regulator Ofwat sets new targets for water companies to reduce water lost by billions of litres per year.

To reach the target, significant and material investment will be committed over the next two years. Fifty new front-line leakage inspectors will be recruited, and new detection technology and data analytics will be used. The reduction in leakage is part of a wider plan to transform the performance of the company, which will also significantly shorten any interruptions to customers supply and also see many fewer pollution incidents.

Currently, Yorkshire Water deals with around 5,500 leaks on its network each year which costs around £19,000 per day to investigate and repair. With demand for water set to increase as the population in the region is predicted to rise to nearly six million by 2024[1], water resilience is a number one priority for the firm.

Reducing leakage means that less water has to be taken from the environment and less energy needs to be used in the treatment and distribution process. The company’s long-term objective is to fully meet the needs of a growing population, whilst using substantially less water than at present.

Liz Barber, director of finance, regulation and markets at Yorkshire Water said: “Our customers have been very clear to us that they really dislike the fact that so much water goes to waste. When we explain the size and scale of the network we have, they do understand how tough it is to reduce leakage, but they still expect us to do better. By doing this, we’ll improve the security of everyone’s supply and also have much less impact on the environment.”

Traditionally, water leaks have been repaired by excavating and clamping the damaged pipes. However, Yorkshire Water is now trailing different types of cutting-edge technology to help stop millions of litres of water escaping from its network.

In Halifax and Keighley for example, satellite space technology traditionally used to hunt for water on other planets in the solar system has been tested to help identify underground water leaks from its pipe network. The technology helped identify 44 underground leaks in both towns that were then quickly fixed by Yorkshire Water’s response team and helped save 330,000 litres of water a day escaping from its network.

Other technology being used by the firm includes up to 15,000 acoustic loggers attached to fittings on water pipes throughout Yorkshire that will be capable of listening to the flow of water in a pipe. The noise and flow pattern of this water will then allow expert data scientists to understand the sound of water to help reduce the risk of bursts or leaks caused by high pressure.

If a water leak is spotted, customers are able to report it to Yorkshire Water by visiting our Leakage webpage.