Leak Monitoring Offers Potential For Europe’s Water Networks

Thames Water’s SmartWater4Europe pilot site in the UK is being fitted with state of the art leak monitoring.
Published: Mon 03 Nov 2014

Thames Water is installing Syrinix’s real time pipeline monitoring technology Trunkminder on its 82-year-old main in the town of Reading, 60km west of London, as part of the EU-funded SmartWater4Europe project.

Trunkminder leak detection

The town relies heavily on the old 20-inch cast iron pipe, with any big cracks potentially causing major flooding and knocking out water supplies to homes and businesses. The Trunkminder technology, being used by the company for the first time outside London and Oxford, will considerably reduce the risk of a damaging big burst.

“Syrinix Trunkminder sits on the old pipe and actually listens to the water powering through the network. It gives us advanced warning if something changes, if something is not right,” explains Thames Water innovation programme manager Nic Clay-Michael. “This could be a very minor leak, just three or four drips a minute, or creak, but the technology allows us to act way before any catastrophic failure and, most importantly, customer impact.”

Optimum  level of the technology

Installation in Reading will cover a key 1,000 metre stretch of the 1932-built trunk main, and will take place at three locations. Trial results will help understand the optimum levels of technology needed to deliver a better level of customer service in other areas in the Thames Water region and across Europe.

Thames Water will also install an additional valve on the pipe. This will reduce the number of customers potentially affected from no water or low pressure as a result of any future pipe failure from 50,000 to 20,000 people.


SmartWater4Europe is a 4-year, €10 million project starting in January 2014 that aims to speed up innovations in key areas including leak management, water quality management, energy optimization and customer interaction.

In addition to Thames Water with its Reading site, other participants are Université de Lille Sciences et Technologies (USTL) with a site at Villeneuve d’Ascq near Lille in France, Vitens with a site in the town of Leeuwarden in Holland, and Acciona Agua with a yet to be determined site in Spain.

In Europe there are approximately 3.5 million km of water distribution networks, large parts of which will require rehabilitation in the next 10-30 years. Based on their own experiences (Thames Water €1 billion/year and Vitens €270 million/year) the two companies estimate the cost at €20 billion/year.

Water leakage is estimated to range from 5-50% of total water produced, while sub-optimal pressure management offers up to 15% potential savings in energy usage for distribution as well as further savings due to a reduced number of leakages. Furthermore in many countries water quality needs improvement.

Earlier this year Thames Water initiated an advanced pressure control deployment on its networks. [Engerati-Technolog Awarded Thames Water Contract]