WRc have been inspecting the health of the capital’s strategic water infrastructure using Sahara® since the 1990s. As life goes on above the streets of London - commuters, residents, businesses and tourists are unaware of the Sahara® sensors below ground, mapping the health of these ageing assets. Providing confidence where they’re still in great condition and providing early warning of when repairs need to be carried out.
But now if residents of the Thames valley region were to look up they may see leaks being detected from the sky! WRc commissioned APEM to carry out aerial photography of the ground around the water mains, making use of the prolonged hot weather to identify areas of ‘green’ that could indicate underground pipe leaks.
Data was acquired from a complex sequence of flights using a fixed wing aircraft provided by PDG Aviation Services. The multispectral camera takes colour infrared photos incorporating the red, green and near-infrared bands. From these images healthier vegetation contrasts against water stressed or bare surfaces. These ‘points of interest’ may show vegetation benefitting from a continuous supply of water from a leaking pipe. Other benefits include the identification of potential illegal water use.
Keith Walker, Head of wrc-infrastructure, said: “The weather conditions have been ideal in the last few weeks for this type of survey so we raced ahead to get the plane in the air. We’ve covered nearly 200km of trunk mains and a number of rural DMAs. We’re very excited about the results that have started to come back.”
David Campbell, head of APEM’s remote sensing team, said: “It’s great to see forward-thinking water companies like Thames Water making use of this type of innovative technology to help find leaks.
“The results so far have been extremely encouraging and we believe that aerial surveys can help with the efficient management of the pipe network for years to come.”