Yorkshire Water to use drones to target leaks

0
Have your say

Utilities provider Yorkshire Water is to take to the skies to try and prevent leaks and blockages before they happen by using drones and even satellites to identify problem areas.

The firm has unveiled an ambitious strategy to try and dramatically reduce disruption to customers with a multi-million investment package in technology and the creation of 300 new jobs.

As part of the plan drones and satellite imaging from space will improve the detection of underground leaks.

The firm is also to deploy 15,000 so-called ‘acoustic ears,’ devices which will listen to the flow of water and detect leaks faster within just three hours rather than the current average of three days.

The business has set itself ambitious targets to reduce sewage escapes causing pollution by 40 per cent, incidents resulting in internal sewer flooding by 70 per cent and the average interruption to water supply to fall by two thirds.

These improvements are to be delivered before the start of the next five-year investment period in 2020.

Drones are already being used in some areas

Drones are already being used in some areas

The recruitment drive will open up opportunities for 50 leakage inspectors, engineers, sewer technicians and data scientists at Yorkshire Water and its contract partners.

Chief executive Richard Flint told The Yorkshire Post that he wanted the business to be sector leading and said that a first-class water network would help drive investment into the region.

“We want an invisible service,” he said.

“Customers have busy lives. Clean water is just a basic thing that people need in order to run their lives. Equally it is great for the economy. If you have got water capacity in changing climatic conditions, which is clearly happening, then it makes the region more attractive a place to invest because by what we are doing we can create headroom in terms of water resilience and preventing incidences of flooding.

28 Nov 2017....... Richard Flint, Chief Executive of Yorkshire Water. Picture Scott Merrylees

28 Nov 2017....... Richard Flint, Chief Executive of Yorkshire Water. Picture Scott Merrylees

“If you look across the country, in the south east in particular there is great pressure on water resource. The benefits of being in Yorkshire, with the resilience we have got and the greater headroom we are going to create, is an attractive economic proposition for investment.”

The business has set itself ambitious targets to reduce sewage escapes causing pollution by 40 per cent, incidents resulting in internal sewer flooding by 70 per cent and the average interruption to water supply to fall by two thirds.

These improvements are to be delivered before the start of the next five-year investment period in 2020.

The recruitment drive will open up opportunities for 50 leakage inspectors, engineers, sewer technicians and data scientists and analysts at Yorkshire Water and its contract partners.

Scarborough from the air

Scarborough from the air

A further 8,000 devices will be installed on the sewer network, providing information on the condition of the pipes and helping to prevent pollution incidents.

Electro-magnetic valves in water pipes that can be remotely controlled will also make it easier to cope with spikes in water demand without affecting water pressure. The use of drones and satellite imaging from space will improve the detection of underground leaks.

Mr Flint said: ”One of the specific objectives we have is to enhance service. It is already good, we are strong comparative to across the country, but this investment will take us to having the lowest level of supply interruptions in the country. It will take us to frontier of performance, which is something our customers, household or retail, deserve.”

In what is believed to be a first in the industry, Yorkshire Water is considering adopting an “open data” approach, allowing the growing Yorkshire-based community of independent data scientists secure access to its data streams.

This will enable the company to work with digital developers to help find solutions to pollution and leakages.

Mr Flint said: “We are in effect throwing open our doors and saying we are not the only people with answers to the questions here. We want as many people as we possibly can to look at our data and help with the essential desire which is to improve performance for customers.”

Asda's sales have been improving over the past year

Asda reports slower growth