We are always on the lookout for innovative ways of improving the way we manage our water resources.

As part of our work to tackle leakage in West Cumbria, where there is an especially pressing need to save every drop, we took the innovative approach of using aerial surveys.

Survey plane looking for leaksDigital aerial survey specialists APEM captured hi-tech images across a 400 sq km area in Copeland, Cumbria. The aircraft were fitted with hi-tech thermal and near infra-red sensors, resulting in high resolution images of the vegetation above our pipes.

100 km of pipes were photographed, allowing image analysts to then identify areas with potential leaks. For example, areas where vegetation was growing more vigorously provided an indication that leaks could be present.

Potential leaks were investigated by our engineers, and repairs carried out.

The project was recognised at the Water Industry Achievement Awards 2014, when we won the award for the "most innovative use of existing technology".

Following the success of the project, we are now looking at using this technique in other parts of Cumbria.

If you would like to send us a comment about this report, please email our Head of Sustainability, Chris Matthews