South West Water is using highly-trained dogs to help find water leaks in rural areas as the company looks to continue reducing leakage levels across the region.
Working in partnership with specialist dog trainers, Cape SPC and Morrison Water Services, South West Water trialled this innovative approach to leak detection last month, with two springer spaniels searching 44 kilometres of hard to navigate rural land over five days, finding a total of seven leaks.
Led by Cape SPC’s expert handlers, the dogs – eight-year-old Denzel and three-year-old Kilo – are trained to detect small traces of chlorine in treated drinking water, and can cover rural land more efficiently than traditional methods, allowing for a more targeted deployment of resources.
Luke Jones, Cape SPC director, said: 'Denzel and Kilo are trained to detect small traces of chlorine in treated drinking water. They are not only able to cover large areas of tough terrain more efficiently, but they can also smell what can’t be seen, and have the ability to differentiate between naturally occurring water and water from leaks. This makes them even more valuable when the weather is wet and conditions are more difficult for people.
'South West Water customers have been playing their part in helping to reduce leakage by reporting nearly 50% more leaks than ever before. With around 30% of leaks now typically found on customers’ own properties, the company has extended its offer to fix these leaks for free.'
Once the dogs have located a potential leak, it is investigated by South West Water’s leakage team in order for a repair to be made.
Ali Milton, South West Water’s leakage delivery manager, said: 'We’re fixing more leaks, more quickly than ever before, working around the clock to conserve our water resources and fixing up to 2,500 leaks a month.
'We continue to invest in innovative technology to help locate hard-to-spot leaks such as utilising satellites to find invisible water leaks underground and drone pilots to cover hard to reach places across Dartmoor and Exmoor.
'Using Denzel and Kilo with the Cape SPC team to cover large areas of hard to access rural land quicker than any human would be able to adds another string to our bow when it comes to tackling leakage.'