Revolutionary leak detection technology delivers huge leak reductions

Through a joint project with Ovarro; Anglian Water has seen a leakage reduction of 1.4 million litres of water per day in targeted areas. In this article, we explain how new technology and close collaboration led to the fantastic results.

Water Services Regulator, Ofwat, has set big targets for UK water companies over the 2020-2025 investment period. Leakage is a large concern for the water industry – about 20% of water supplied in the UK is lost as a direct result of leaks.

In its Emerging Strategy report, Ofwat said that new technologies were “essential to increase productivity and meet strategic challenges in the most cost-effective way” – and in its latest price review, it also called for “collaboration between utilities and business”.

The game-changing leakage project between Ovarro and Anglian Water has resulted in a 1.4 million litre per day reduction in the areas where work has been completed – this is a 35% shift from pre-installation.


As market-leaders in tackling leaks, Ovarro's research and development team works with utilities and their partners to develop best-in-class technologies. Anglian is already at the forefront of the water industry for leakage – with half the amount of water lost to leaks compared to any other water company. The company aims to reduce leaks by an extra 22% across its network in AMP7.

In collaborating, the two teams wanted to develop new leak detection technology to increase efficiency, save time, free-up staff and improve conversion rates.

The result of this joint brief was the Enigma3hyQ, developed from Primayer’s existing noise correlation technology. The new product is a multi-point noise correlation system that uses immersed acoustic hydrophone sensors, which “listen” to sound waves inside the pipe to identify leaks.

The hydrophone sensors are placed permanently into the pipe at convenient fittings such as fire hydrants or dedicated access points. This means greater sensitivity, resulting in more leaks being found more quickly. It returns all data from underground transmitters via cellular communication networks 3G or GPRS – there is no need to negotiate with local authorities over above-ground street hardware.

It will also result in quicker and easier repairs – meaning less disruption to customers. 

Initial trials with Anglian, on 40km of mains in the town of Louth, Lincolnshire, showed the sensors were effective in accurately finding leaks over long distances of up to 4.6m, and inside pipes made from a large range of materials, including plastic.

This has revolutionised leakage in the UK water industry by allowing Anglian Water to identify leaks that were previously undetectable. The noise that plastic pipes emit when they leak is greatly damped even over small distances from the leak, making the signal hard to detect and correlate.

Andy Smith, Anglian Water’s smart water strategy manager, said that the development would “revolutionise what we do in terms of leakage”.

The system is now being rolled-out across Anglian Water’s whole network with the first installation of 3,500 loggers well underway – another 1,000 will follow.

Enigma3hyQ Leak Noise Logger from Ovarro

High conversion rate

So far, 2,023 loggers have been installed and 1,325 leaks found from 1,600 potential leak locations identified. This represents a conversion rate of 83%, which is exceptionally high.

Richard Fielding, hydraulic optimisation engineer at Anglian Water, said: “The consistent performance from the Enigma3hyQ is enabling us to make a real step-change in how we manage leakage. In addition to locating previously undetectable leaks on plastic pipes, we are improving the service we provide our customers by detecting and repairing leaks before they become visible.

“The permanent nature of this technology also increases our efficiency by allowing us to prioritise the deployment of our detection teams to the parts of our network with the highest need, resulting in reduced travel time, increased productivity and a reduction of the associated health and safety risks of routine leakage detection surveys.” 

The significant reduction in leakage across Anglian Water’s network shows how much can be achieved when the supply chain and water companies work closely together to develop new solutions. With Anglian’s first roll-out of loggers well underway – with more to follow - a rapid uptake of this revolutionary technology worldwide is anticipated.


Explore Enigma3hyQ

Automatic correlation

The Enigma3hyQ loggers transmit daily leak noise data to Ovarro’s server via the 3G or GPRS communication networks. Correlation is performed automatically every 24 hours on signals received from many loggers in order to locate leak positions accurately.

The user can listen to the recorded noise, helping to confirm that correlation results are due to leak noise. The data is available at any location, on any desktop or mobile device, via PrimeWeb, Ovarro’s cloud-based data collection software.

Ensuring Anglian Water meets its targets is very much a collaboration. Ovarro is one of 10 companies jointly awarded the framework agreement, and the Enigma3hyQ noise correlating loggers form a key part of the leakage strategy.