Shropshire Star

Sniffer dogs help Scottish Water locate leaks in rural areas

The team has been working in the Borders and East Lothian.

Sniffer dog

A crack team of sniffer dogs has helped find a dozen mains water leaks in rural Scotland.

Scottish Water said the four specially-trained dogs sniffed out 21 suspected leaks in the Borders and East Lothian, with 12 being found to be in need of repair.

The dogs, springer spaniels Kilo and Denzel, cocker spaniel Mylo, and Labrador-cocker cross Tico, have been trained by ex-military dog handlers to detect the smell of chlorine in treated water.

This enables them to find leaks in rural areas where water is not always visible on the surface.

Stewart Hamilton, a Scottish Water customer services operation team manager, said: “We use modern technology such as ground microphones, correlators, hydrophones and other devices to pinpoint the exact location of underground assets and leaks.

“However, some bursts in rural locations are more difficult to pinpoint and we are always looking for innovative ways to do the job more effectively and to continue reducing leakage.

“That’s where these sniffer dogs come in because their sensitive noses can detect treated mains water at very low concentrations.

A team of four men in outdoor gear with one of the sniffer dogs
The dogs have been helping Scottish Water find leaks in rural areas (Scottish Water/PA)

“When the dogs help pinpoint the exact locations of leaks, we then come back to that point, investigate, excavate and repair the bursts.”

The dogs found the suspected leaks in the Ettrick, East Linton, Hawick, Jedburgh and Mosstower to Hownam areas.

Mr Hamilton added: “It’s really effective using the dogs in rural and remote areas and when the weather is wet. The handlers walk the mains, following a mains app, and the dogs are very efficient and differentiate between the smells of surface water and treated water.”

The dogs are provided by Warrington-based company Cape SPC, which said it is confident of using the dogs to continue finding water leaks in the future.

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