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Costain partnerships win £3.5m funding for innovative solutions to problems in the water industry

Thames Water


16 May 2023

  • Innovative leak detection solution and data-sharing project to boost collaboration receive share of £40m fund
  • Ofwat’s Innovation Fund seeks to tackle the water industry’s biggest challenges

Ofwat has awarded Costain partnerships £3.5m in funding for initiatives that could change the way leaks in the water network are detected and how data is shared within the industry to improve collaboration.

The projects are two of the solutions being awarded a share of £40m in the water regulator’s latest innovation competition – the Water Breakthrough Challenge.

The first initiative, Fibre Optic Leak Detection, has been awarded £1.5m to find a leak detection solution using the fibre-optic cables already adjacent to water mains. These cables (often part of the broadband network) can be used to report tiny changes in ground stability, which in turn acts as an early indication of water leaks. This technique is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than current monitoring practices. The concept has already been successfully demonstrated in the first funding round and the additional funding is to prove the solution at scale. This project will see Costain work in partnership with Severn Trent Water, Focus Sensors, Welsh Water, Northumbrian Water, South Staffordshire Water and Hafren Dyfrdwy.

The second project, Stream, has been awarded £2m to unlock the potential of data to benefit water customers, society and the environment. Stream will put in place technology and processes to remove the barriers to sharing water company data within the industry. Costain is partnering with Pinsent Masons to provide the legal and commercial framework that will enable this improvement in collaboration.

Costain’s head of innovation investment, Aarti Gupta said, “Today’s water industry is facing huge challenges from population growth, extreme weather and ageing infrastructure. It’s vital we harness innovation to tackle these issues, thinking in creative ways to drive down costs for consumers and to improve the sustainability of solutions.”

David Black, CEO at Ofwat said: “The water sector has faced mounting pressure over systemic challenges related to the environment and society, while the climate around us continues to drastically change shape. That’s why we’re funding ground-breaking innovations with potential to help us save and reuse water and wastewater products, while supporting wider society.”

The Water Breakthrough Challenge encourages initiatives that help to tackle the biggest challenges facing the water sector, such as achieving net zero, protecting natural ecosystems and reducing leaks. It’s part of a series of competitions from Ofwat, run by Challenge Works with Arup and Isle Utilities, to drive innovation and collaboration in the sector to benefit individuals, society and the environment.



Notes to Editors

Enquiries: Jemma Savage, Headland

[email protected]