Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s one of Anglia Water’s leak-seeking drones!

The skies above Wisbech could soon be filled with leak-seeking drones, thanks to Anglian Water.

The skies above Wisbech could soon be filled with leak-seeking drones, thanks to Anglian Water. - Credit: Archant

Anglian Water has taken to the skies in an attempt to improve the detection of leaking water pipes.

Anglian Water is to trial new drone technology in Wisbech this year.

Anglian Water is to trial new drone technology in Wisbech this year. - Credit: Archant

They have become the first water company to trial thermal imaging drones – and plans to trial the new technology in Wisbech in 2017.

With nearly 24,000 miles of water pipe to keep an eye on, much of it in rural and remote areas, Anglian Water hopes the aerial technology will help reduce the cost and time taken to find a leak and pinpoint its location more precisely by spotting changes in soil temperature near the water pipes.

Emma Staples from Anglian Water said: “The drones are just the latest weapon in our £60 million war on leakage.

“We’re testing other high-tech tools and have put more boots on the ground. Our 300-strong leakage team now includes new detection teams tasked with uncovering hard-to-find leaks, who have been given specialist training on how to use the new drone technology.


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“We’ve also invested millions to better manage the water pressure in our network of pipes, dramatically reducing the number of bursts.

“We hate leaks as much as our customers do and we’re determined to keep reducing them. Our targets are already way beyond those of other water companies and we’re always looking for new ways to push things forward.

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“The drones have already saved us time and money finding and fixing hard-to-spot leaks.

“Leading on leakage reduction is what our customers told us they wanted. It’s the right thing to do for them and the environment. It also helps to increase of region’s resilience to drought.”

The sensor and camera on the drone can identify differences in soil temperature which could be caused by water escaping from the pipe.

These differences are then investigated further by a leakage technician on-site, rather than needing to be analysed back in the office.

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