Utilities Digital Solutions Europe

The leakage leader board: which UK water utilities are on track?

Monday, 22 August 2022

The Water Services Regulation Authority, Ofwat, has released provisional data on UK utilities' progress in reducing leakage.

Water leakage reduction: progress being made

The data suggests that three-quarters of UK water companies are on track to meet their leakage targets, while some have gone a step further and reduced leakage by more than 10 per cent over the past two years.

These figures reveal that industry-wide leakage has been reduced by 11 per cent since 2017-18.

Ofwat has set the target for water companies to reduce leakage by 50 per cent come 2050. Additionally, a 16 per cent reduction target has been set for 2025.

“We are all acutely aware of the impact of climate change and the value and importance of water.”

These figures are based on the three-year leakage average from the 2019-20 with each water company starting from different baselines.

Leading the pack, Portsmouth Water, Bristol Water and Wessex Water came out on top with a leakage reduction of 12 per cent, 11.5 per cent and 10.8 per cent, respectively.

Propping up the table, Northumbrian Water has made a 1.1 per cent reduction over the past three years, while both South East Water and Severn Trent were separated by just 0.1 of a per cent on 3.3 per cent and 3.4 per cent. 

The full results can be found in the table below, which shows water company leakage reduction (based on three-year averages from the 2019-2020 baseline).

Water company Leakage reduction *
 Affinity Water  10.5%
 Anglian Water  6.1% 
 Bristol Water  11.5%
 Hafren Dyfrdwy  8.6%
 Northumbrian Water   1.1%
 Portsmouth Water  12.0%
 SES Water  6.3% 
 Severn Trent  3.4% 
 South East Water  3.3%
 South Staffs Water  7.2% 
 South West Water  6.0%
 Southern Water  5.0% 
 Thames Water  10.2% 
 United Utilities  4.7%
 Welsh Water  5.2% 
 Wessex Water  10.8% 
 Yorkshire Water  7.9% 

*Source: Ofwat

David Black, CEO of Ofwat, said: "It is encouraging to see progress in tackling leakage, with some companies making significant reductions.

"That said, there is much further to go. In the drier weather, we are all acutely aware of the impact of climate change and the value and importance of water."

Ofwat said these provisional figures will be validated over the coming months, with the official figures available when Ofwat publishes the Service and Delivery Report 21-22 later this year.

Turning to innovative solutions

With water leakage proving a continued challenge, water utilities are turning to innovative solutions to help pinpoint leak locations.

Back in 2020, United Utilities turned to AI to help track down leaks. The utility also entered into a partnership with British start-up, FIDO, which went on to secure £1.5 million investment to scale up its innovative sensor solution.

SES Water, which provides water to 735,000 customers, also turned to a burst reduction solution to detect, localise and monitor leaks at an early stage.

“With increasing urbanisation and climate change, water utilities are coming under ever-increasing pressure to meet changing and increasing demand from water consumers.s.”

Meanwhile, South West Water plans to invest £50 million into leak reduction as it too seeks to reduce water loss across its networks.

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