Oakland Group

How to solve the leakage problem

You can’t have failed to escape the recent press surrounding the water industry and leakage (especially here in the UK. It is estimated that 3 billion litres escape through leakage every day in England and Wales (the equivalent of 1,180 Olympic-sized swimming pools). Tracking down three billion litres of lost water – BBC News

In the face of unprecedented temperatures and prolonged drought, a problem that has plagued companies across the industry for years is coming to a head. The halcyon days of plentiful supply masking fundamental flaws in water networks look to be over. Regulators will likely take a dim view of anything but plans to reduce leakage over the next AMP significantly.

There will be no shortage of solutions to this complex challenge underpinned by networks that are under-maintained, the underlying infrastructure that is aging, and countless pressure variants that cascade through unmanaged parts of the network. On the engineering side, innovative solutions are available in the market now, and early-stage research is proving promising in other Active Leakage Control Efficiency in the Sustainable Economic Level of Leakage Calculation (ukwir.org).

On the technology side, solutions abound, and countless case studies enthusiastically tout the effectiveness of this logger, model, or digital twin at creating sustainable reductions in leakage. Unfortunately, the fact remains that leakage is still a problem and no one company seems to be on the fast track to fixing it. We do not portend to have solutions to the underlying issues (unless we are ready to press pause on our lives for a few years while we dig everything up and fix the core problems). However, our experience has led us to a few observations that may be of use to companies looking to make a dent in their leakage over the next AMP:

These are by no means an exhaustive list of things to do, but a view from individuals who has been engaged deeply in the industry but has also had the perspective of other heavy industries trying to tackle similar problems. What do you think?  Have we gone completely out of touch with the reality on the ground?  Or have we tapped into a nerve that can help push for some sustainable change in this space? Let’s chat!

Jeff Gilley is a Senior Principal at The Oakland Group