As you would expect, ‘fibre in water’ doesn’t sound like a good thing. However, this new government initiative could not only improve the UK’s broadband and reduce the need for roadworks, but it could also save millions of litres of water.

The Fibre in Water initiative aims to improve access to advanced broadband and mobile services via our drinking water mains. Four million pounds worth of government research and development funding has been allocated to help water companies facilitate the delivery of advanced broadband and mobile services via drinking water mains. The aim is to connect the hardest to reach areas of the UK with advanced telecoms services, but without the need for the disruption, costs, time and work needed to install them separately. This would make it a quicker and greener solution to levelling up access to broadband in rural areas.

The idea is to pass fibre optic cables through existing water pipes. The pay-off for water companies will be that sensors in the cables will detect leaks, helping to reduce clean water leakage and resulting carbon emissions. There is currently estimated to be 20% clean water leakage, and Ofwat has a target to reduce leakage by 50%. The best way to detect leaks in your business is to take and submit monthly meter readings on MyAccount, to help you spot unusual consumption spikes. Not only will this facility early leak detection, but it will also ensure your water bills are more accurate.

The pilot scheme

A £1.2 million grant for research and development has just been awarded to a consortium made up of Yorkshire Water, Arcadis and the University of Strathclyde. The first stage of the project will focus on the safety aspect to ensure that having telecom cables in clean water pipes is safe and secure, as well as commercially viable. The telecom cables will be housed in ‘messenger’ pipes to ensure they don’t come into contact with the water.

All being well, the project will then move into its next phase, which will involve the installation of fibre optic cables along 17km of water pipes in South Yorkshire to test how well the technology works. If the trials are successful, the technology could begin to be rolled out across the UK in 2024.

Mark Harrop, Senior Director and Head of Telecoms Sector at Arcadis, said: “Fibre in water technology has been around for some time, but what is missing is an operational and commercial model that meets the needs of both telecoms and water industries.”

Reducing the amount of water that is lost through leaks would have a positive impact on the supply of clean water, increasing water security, and lower bills.

Water efficiency for your business

Water efficiency is an important part of your business strategy. Not only will saving water ultimately save your business money, but it will also help you reach sustainability goals. Discover where you can make more efficient use of your business water by booking a water efficiency audit or downloading our free water efficiency guide.

By switching to Castle Water, you will save up to 80% on your fixed water charges, which could lead to substantial savings before starting to reduce your business water usage. The process simple, and we handle everything for you, so you can enjoy a stress-free switch.


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