Midlands water company Severn Trent has used machine learning to halve the amount of time spent finding leaks.

The machine learning model means that water engineers can find leaks more accurately and manage leakage operations more effectively.

In pilot areas, there has been a reduction in leaks of over 16%.

Severn Trent worked with consulting, technology and digital services company Capgemini to create the model, which applied advanced analytics to data collected through sensors in its network of pipes.

How can data analytics stop leaks?

The amount of data being analysed in the Capgemini-Severn Trent partnership consists of about 5 billion records of flow and pressure data.

Capgemini combined its expertise in data science and analytics with Severn Trent’s knowledge of water supply and leakage operations in pre-built analytical models.

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Now Severn Trent is looking at how to use advanced analytics in other areas to solve more challenges in water management and supply.

The power of data in saving water

Severn Trent Technology and Lab Data Manager Rob Ryder said: “This new advanced capability allows us to explore possible outcomes that were not previously available to us – so we’re in a position where we can tackle leakage more effectively and more quickly for our customers, and improve their experience with us.”

Capgemini’s UK Business Unit Group Account Executive Energy and Utilities Amit Ghosh said: “The success of the leakage detection programme demonstrates a strong partnership ethos between Severn Trent and Capgemini.

“Severn Trent is a true innovator who believes in the power of data and we are taking our relationship to the next level by helping them build a strong internal capability to deliver a truly insight-driven business.”

Water leaks an ongoing problem across the UK

In June 2018, the UK Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat) announced that Thames Water would pay back customers £65m as part of a £120m package of penalties, over its failure to tackle leaks.

Ofwat’s investigation found that Thames Water Board had not done enough to reduce leaks and had underestimated its legal responsibility for oversight on leakage operations.

The BBC reported in August 2018 that water leakage had fallen about 38% since a peak in 1994-95 when 5,112 million litres were lost per day.

However, 20 water companies in England and Wales still failed to meet targets in stopping leaks last year, with 23% of water in the public supply lost across the UK.