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How Satellite Technology can reduce leakage from water utility pipes

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Over three billion litres of water is lost every day to leaks in England (1). Supply interruptions are also up with customers complaining that taps are “dry”. While top water management executives’ bonuses and company profits increase, investment in network infrastructure is down (2).

In the face of recent financial reports, customers are outraged at water utility companies for failing to make capital investments in reservoirs, antiquated infrastructure, fix leaks, and stop sewage pollution from their pipes.

As reported in the BBC 4 Today Show story dated 16 August, 2022, residents from Challock & Mollash, of Ashford, in Kent, areas managed by South East Water, had this to say after the taps ran dry for nearly a week starting on 15 July, 2022 (3):

“This is the 5th day we have been without water with all of these promises when it will be turned back on”, a gentleman said.

“I’ve got a one year old baby and two other children with no water to drink”, a woman complained.

With over almost 350,000 kilometres of water pipes, reducing leakage presents significant technological challenges.  Water utility companies are researching some of the newest technology to reach the thousands of leaks they experience each week, but delays in implementation and existing problems persist with antiquated systems all compounded by global warming and rising temperatures perpetuating reduced supply (and rising prices).

Commenting on these leakage challenges, Water UK Chief Executive Christine McGourty stated in the press, “… the water industry is committed to doing much more, and companies are putting innovation and technology at the heart of a commitment to radically reduce leakage over the long-term. Intelligent networks, smart sensors, satellite technology and drones are all part of the armoury that’s being deployed to detect and fix leaks faster than ever and at lower cost.”(4)

Reduction in leakage through using this state-of-the-art technology, data capture and analysis and new innovative methods to find and fix leaks, whilst collaborating with innovative technology companies to share best practices requires coordination and collaboration between utility companies and government regulatory agencies.  One ground-breaking method is using satellite technology to report leaks to company data monitoring centres.

David Black, Chief Executive of OFWAT, stated on the BBC 4 Today Show “We’ve now got new technologies available.  We have Satellite Technology to monitor pipes allowing us to do the job better and fix leaks faster, and that is what is required!”

In addition to increased monitoring by expanding bandwidth through technologies such as SD-WAN and VSAT, the Utilities sector, should be working with technology providers to integrate these innovations and help create the UK’s largest smart Utilities network.

New approaches are being introduced for better, faster skills, and improved competencies in all areas of problem detection, location and repair.

Conclusion, greater regulation is required by the government to increase and monitor Utility Sector performance targets, encourage profits to be re-invested within each sector’s infrastructure with the introduction of new technology, and technology partners, all the while discouraging high pay-outs to corporate executives and shareholders in the face of today’s issues.  This is responsible management and governance both within the Utilities corporate sector, and within the Government working in concert. This cannot be done without the collaboration of a technology solutions provider such as Hughes Europe.

For more information about how Hughes Europe can help to deliver network availability and resilience, and support in the delivery of digital transformation objectives, please get in touch.

If you have any questions related to this article please contact Mark Farish at m.farish@hugheseurope.com

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