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Dogs Sniff Out Leaking Water Mains

Sniffer dogs detect leaking water mains

In rural areas where water leaks can be elusive, Scottish Water has enlisted the help of specially trained dogs to sniff out leaks in underground pipes. Mylo, a cocker spaniel, along with three other dogs—Kilo and Denzel, both springer spaniels and Tico, a labrador-cocker cross—have been taught to detect the scent of chlorine, which is present in treated water.

Working alongside Cape SPC, a company based near Warrington that owns and provides the service, Scottish Water aims to expand the use of these dogs beyond the recent deployments in the Borders and East Lothian. Their approach involves advanced leak detection techniques, improved training methods, and the integration of technology to confirm leaks.

During their recent assignments, the dogs successfully identified 21 points of interest or suspected leaks across various areas. Scottish Water promptly repaired or scheduled repairs for 12 of these leaks, contributing to the reduction of water wastage and infrastructure maintenance.

Dogs Sniff Out Leaking Water Mains

Dogs Sniff Out Leaking Water Mains (Credits: The Independent)

Stewart Hamilton, a manager at Scottish Water, highlighted the challenges of pinpointing leaks in rural terrain, particularly in wet and boggy conditions. While modern technology like ground microphones and correlators aids in leak detection, the dogs offer an additional layer of effectiveness by detecting treated mains water at low concentrations.

Luke Jones, the managing director of Cape SPC, emphasized the remarkable olfactory capabilities of the dogs, which are around 40 times greater than humans. Trained through scent association and rewarded for identifying chlorine, the dogs play a crucial role in locating leaks, not only for water utilities but potentially in various other applications.

The success of the recent deployments has encouraged optimism for the broader implementation of the dog-assisted leak detection approach. Scottish Water, with its extensive network of water mains, recognizes the value of innovative solutions like utilizing dogs, especially in areas where traditional methods may fall short due to challenging terrain or environmental conditions.

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