CW Member Anglian Water to trial fibre-optic cables to find hidden leaks in water mains

Member News published by Anglian Water, under Sensors

Anglian Water engineers are once again pushing the boundaries of engineering innovation as they begin a trial using fibre optic cables to detect leaks in their water pipe network.

With enough water pipe to reach Australia and back again, the water company is already a frontier performer in the industry, reporting half as much leakage per kilometre of pipeline as any other water company in the in the UK. Working across Anglian Waters award winning alliance with partner Kier, a leading provider of construction and infrastructure services, and the innovative CRALEY Group, the new trial is the next addition to Anglian’s pedigree of innovation in next generation leakage engineering.

CRALEY Group’s iSMTM technology is being trialled on a Kier designed model section of pipework on an Anglian Water site in Lincolnshire. This model will allow engineers to test the endurance and capability of the fibre optics and allow them to hone the technical process of installing and removing the fibre optics from the pipeline.


Once the fibre optic sensor cable is fed into water pipes, the iSMTM technology has the potential to continually monitor the pipeline for leaks and other events in the network by creating thousands of virtual sensors along the section of pipeline being monitored. The information from these virtual sensors is processed in real-time with immediate reporting of any new leaks or events of interest occurring. Depending on the results of this initial trial, work could progress to full scale operational trials in a live water network.


“This technology has the potential to revolutionise the way we find and fix leaks across our water network and we’re hoping it will be a fitting addition to our Smart network strategy, it’s exciting times!  Despite being the best in the business, we know we must go even further as it’s one of the most important things to our customers and the wider environment. Anglian Water was the first company to use thermal imaging drones and naval hydrophone technology to help us find leaks – this could be the next tool in our armoury in the war against leakage.

In terms of leaks, because we’re industry leading, gone are all the low-hanging fruits and quick wins, we’re now into the realms of tracking down really hard to find leaks, long before they’re visible to the naked eye. Over the last five years we’ve invested £120million in driving down leakage, and our targets are now even tougher. We’re working towards further reduction of over 15% by 2025 meaning we’ll be a world leader in low levels of leakage.

We’re exploring every avenue of engineering available to us to continually be better, and technology like this could revolutionise our ability to meet those tough targets.”

Hayley Bruce, Project Manager for Anglian Water


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