Digital Solutions Europe

Turning satellite technology to sewer networks

Thursday, 26 October 2023

In wastewater management, where challenges such as leak detection, resource allocation and regulatory compliance are daily concerns, could satellite surveillance technology bring about a transformative shift?


The management of sewer networks

Traditionally recognised for its role in identifying leaks in clean water networks, satellite surveillance technology is now being used for the management of sewer networks, marking a crucial milestone in the industry's approach to wastewater monitoring and maintenance.

Satellite surveillance for wastewater management involves the use of advanced satellite technology, specifically L-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), to detect and analyse the unique signature of wastewater from space. This approach could offer a comprehensive and non-invasive way to monitor extensive land areas, allowing for the timely identification of potential leaks and other issues within the wastewater infrastructure.

Through the integration of Geographic Information System (GIS) files with satellite scans, potential leak locations can be pinpointing, providing additional valuable data for immediate investigation and prompt repairs by field crews. 


Detailed insights into the condition of wastewater pipes

One of the key advantages of satellite surveillance in wastewater management lies in its ability to provide detailed insights into the condition of the wastewater pipes. By leveraging computer algorithms and Artificial Intelligence, this technology allows operators to prioritise maintenance tasks and allocate resources effectively, thereby optimising the overall management of wastewater networks.

Furthermore, the technology's capacity to identify clusters of leak locations enables a more strategic and targeted approach to maintenance, ensuring that critical issues are addressed promptly and efficiently. This not only minimises the impact on the environment but also contributes to the overall sustainability of water resources and supports regulatory compliance in the sector.


Anglian Water’s pilot

Water management company Suez recently partnered with water testing service Asterra to deliver satellite surveillance for water networks with patented satellite surveillance technology.

 Earlier this year SUEZ and ASTERRA partnered with Anglian Water to detect invisible leaks, announcing that their first two full scans of Anglian Water's entire water network to detect hard-to-find, invisible leaks, yielded positive results with 2,000 m3/day of water saved. 

“As so much of our region is rural, the satellites are particularly helping to detect any leaks in these harder to spot stretches of our network, where traditional monitoring is much more difficult, and are already proving to be a fitting addition to our existing armoury of technology in the war against leakage,” said Chris Utton, leakage intensive delivery manager for Anglian Water.

With continuous advancements and ongoing research in this field, satellite surveillance is poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of wastewater management and promoting environmental conservation.