Utility Invests in Australia’s First Water Leak Detection Dog

Following successful field testing with two spaniels over the summer, the Water Corporation of Western Australia is training a dog to become a full-time leak detection tool
Utility Invests in Australia’s First Water Leak Detection Dog
Nicola Lazaroo with Water Corporation CEO Sue Murphy and the leak detection dogs that did the field testing over the summer, Tommy and Emma.

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Early next year, an Australian water utility will be deploying a new leak detection tool — Kep. That’s the name of an English springer spaniel who is currently being trained in the ways of leak detection by a leading Australian dog trainer, Steve Austin.

When Kep is fully trained, she will be capable of locating a leak in water pipes up to 2 feet deep. That range was determined over the summer during field trials with two other spaniels, Tommy and Emma. Austin worked with those dogs as well, alongside Nicola Lazaroo of Water Corporation, which serves more than 2 million people throughout the state of Western Australia.

“This is a great example of Water Corporation’s value of future thinking,” Lazaroo says. “To me, future thinking is about keeping an open mind when assessing new technology or ways of doing things. At the beginning of the project it seemed both so simple, and impossible, that dogs could smell underground water leaks. But I kept an open mind, trusting in the science behind a dog’s olfactory system, and the dogs amazed me with their finds in the field. This project is an example showing that new technology doesn’t always have to be complicated.”

During the field trials, the dogs were specifically trained to detect the scent of distribution system water and ignore other scents such as rainwater or pipes and fittings.

“Most traditional leak detection technologies are not effective at detecting leaks on long sections of underground water mains across farmlands areas in the Wheatbelt,” Lazaroo says. “The use of a detection dog was identified as a possible solution to the challenges.”

Following the success of the field trials, Water Corporation decided to make the investment in a full-time leak detection dog. The utility polled the community to arrive at the name Kep, an Aboriginal word meaning “water.”

Source: Water Corporation


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