Our leakage performance

Last reviewed:

We realise that it’s important we do all we can to reduce the amount of water leaked from the network. We know this is also important to you and for the environment.

We set ourselves a yearly target for total leakage, and that target reduces every year. In other words, we want to bring leakage down year on year. We do lots of things to achieve this reduction – from finding and fixing leaks, to replacing mains that might be worn out and managing water pressures within our pipes to stop new leaks happening.

Last year, we missed our target and will miss it again this year. We have a recovery plan to get us back on track and each month we’ll update this page with our performance so far against this plan.

Graph 1 below shows our forecast and actual total leakage last year and so far this year, and the leakage target we committed to for customers in 2016/17 and 2017/18.

As you can see from this graph, the amount of water lost varies during the year and the months of October to December are usually the worst. Our leakage target is an annual average for the year. Of course, things don’t always go according to plan – for example, the cold weather in March meant more pipes burst and more leakage occurred than we thought would at this time of year. You’ll see the impact of this in our March performance report next month.

How we have performed in February

Finding and fixing leaks has the biggest impact on reducing leakage. In February, we completed 2,552 leaks, which is 565 more than we had planned to do.

Graph 2 shows our forecast and actual number of leaks we have found and fixed so far this year.

In February, we had planned to save 34.59 million litres of water each day (Ml/d) through finding and fixing leaks and other leakage recovery plan activities. In the process of fixing a leak once we have found one, the leak we uncover is sometimes smaller than we would’ve expected.

Graph 3 shows our forecast and estimated actual water saved so far this year through our leakage recovery plan.

We estimate that we have actually saved 33.85 Ml/d, which is the same amount of water it would take to fill Big Ben Tower around seven times every day.

What we’re doing to improve

At the end of 2016/17, we had missed our leakage target (630 Ml/d). Our annual average leakage had increased by five per cent from 642Ml/d to 677Ml/d, which meant we incurred a regulatory penalty of £8.6 million for not meeting our customer commitment.

We’re absolutely committed to reaching our 2019/20 performance target of 606Ml/d, and have a recovery plan in place to get us there. We know we will not meet our original annual target of 620 Ml/d for 2017/18 and will incur a further regulatory penalty.

We are talking to our customers until 29 April 2018 about our future plans, including what level of leakage you would like us to achieve. We’re proposing to reduce our leakage by a further 15% between 2020 and 2025. You can let us know what matters most to you, here.

Here are some of our next steps to help us deliver our customer commitments by 2020.

Fitting meters across our region

By fitting meters at points around our network and at customers’ properties, we can better understand where on our network water is being lost. This helps us to find leaks more quickly and estimate more accurately how much water is being lost. For example, if we know how much water we’re putting into an area, we can estimate how much water is being used by our customers. If the water usage changes a lot, we assume there is a leak in that area and carry out investigations and fixes much more quickly. Meters also show us if a customer has a leak on their pipe – did you know about a third of all water lost is actually lost from customers’ pipes? If we do find a customer has a leak on their pipe, we will help them get it fixed as quickly as possible.

Installing more acoustic loggers

Acoustic loggers are devices which fix to pipes and listen for the noise water makes as it leaks. They help us to improve leak detection and find harder-to-locate leaks. We’ve so far installed 6,000 loggers and by the end of April 2018 we should have 26,000 in the network.

More leak detectors

We have increased the number of people working for us who find leaks on pipes. They use data about our network to judge where leaks are occurring and tell repair teams where to dig. More leak detectors will help us save up to 50Ml/d more of water being lost due to leaks across our network.

Improving our sites

We’re upgrading our sites to give us greater control over the water we pump into our pipes. If we allow too much water into our network at one time, the increased pressure can cause bursts, which further increases leakage.

Pressure management

We set the pressure within parts of our network to reduce the likelihood bursts might happen, and to reduce the amount of water lost through existing leaks.

Mains replacement

We have a long-term programme of replacing or rehabilitating those pipes which have worn or might cause disruption if they burst or leak.

Fixing outstanding leaks

We’re increasing our focus on leaks we know about to fix them as soon as possible and save even more water.

You play a huge part in helping us to find and fix even more leaks, you can let us know about a leak online.