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Australian utility uses sniffer dogs to detect water mains leaks

A trial using two specially trained sniffer dogs is being carried out by Australian utility Water Corporation to detect hidden leaks in below ground water mains.

The two dogs are being trained as part of the company’s research and development programme to smell water when there is a potential break along underground mains.

Water Corporation, principal supplier of water, wastewater and drainage services throughout the state of Western Australia, is investigating whether the dogs can better detect hidden leaks in areas where other detection methods are deemed unsuitable or where human access is difficult.

The dogs, a springer spaniel called Tommy and a cocker spaniel called Emma, are being trained by leading Australian dog trainer Steve Austin. He has worked with a number of agencies in Australia to train dogs to detect different smells for situations including feral animal control and narcotics detection. 

Water minister Dave Kelly said: “With nearly 34,000km of water mains across our vast state it is important we continue to explore new and innovative methods of detecting hidden leaks. When pipes are buried underground it is much more challenging to detect a leak. Leaks in water mains can waste precious water and have the potential to interrupt water supplies to homes and businesses. 

“These field trials will not only test the dogs’ ability to sniff out hidden leaks, but they will see how close they need to be to the leak for it to be detected and how many kilometres a day they can travel.”

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