Sniffer dogs are being used by Yorkshire Water to detect leaks in rural areas in a new trial to reduce waste
Two highly trained sniffer dogs are joining the team at Yorkshire Water to sniff out leaks in rural areas.
The two springer spaniels, Denzel and Kilo, started on a month’s trial with the utility company this week to see if they could help locate leaks from pipes in more remote areas.
Simon Redfern, Yorkshire Water leakage manager, said it was a first for the company.
“We use lots of different techniques to detect leaks, mainly acoustic.
“Bringing in Denzel and Kilo is quite exciting as it is something new and they are lovely to work with.”
The two dogs are from specialist company CAPE SPC which has the UK’s only canine-assisted water leak detection team.
They are trained to detect scents associated with treated clean water including chlorine which is used in the water treatment process.
For the month-long trial Denzel and Kilo, with their handler Luke Jones, will be working on areas around Keighley and Skipton, walking the routes of the larger trunk mains.
The trunk mains are pipes which are generally sited deeper in the ground and have fewer access points. Leaks from these pipes can be difficult to detect as the water cannot always be seen on the surface.
“It is the places where we have struggled to find leaks using traditional equipment,” Mr Redfern said.
“We have provided their handlers with plans of the network so they know where the pipes are then they walk the route, if the dogs scent something associated with a water leak they will lie down.”
The team from Yorkshire Water will then follow up with acoustic equipment to check if the dogs are right.
The dogs will look to improve the speed and accuracy of leak detection by surveying around 4km of pipeline per day.
“What this will do is provide a good comparison between methods such as imagery and drones which are fitted with cameras to look at soil moisture.
“We don’t know how effective it will be in comparison to the methods we have used before but dogs have been proven to have extremely sensitive noses so it will be really interesting.”
Martyn Hattersley, head of leakage operations, said: “These leaks can often go unnoticed for longer than we would like as the water remains underground.
“In rural areas, the dogs from CAPE will sniff out the leaks we can’t see above ground and we’re looking forward to working with our new team mates.”
The company is looking to reduce leakage by a further 15 per cent by 2025 and is also trialling a smart water network in Sheffield.