Design out leakage: The impact of future proofed water supplies


Environmental concerns are again in the media, the latest report by the Climate Change Committee is painting a bleak picture of the future if action is not taken to reduce the impact we have on the planet.  

Water, in the UK, has not traditionally been an area of concern, but understanding of the impact on the environment has begun to be more widely recognised. Despite our rainfall, population and demand continue to grow.  This alongside aging networks springing leaks puts our water system under strain like never before.

One water company has thrown out traditional practice and adopted a new method of working that tackles these issues and future proofs their network.


Design out joints on pipes and prepare for smarter meters
Underground water meters and jointed water supply pipes are two of the biggest issues with updating the network and preventing leaks.  For over 15 years Portsmouth Water have applied a no joint policy to water supply pipes coupled with an above ground meter enclosure which probably explains their primary place at the top of the leakage charts and customer satisfaction surveys.

Bob Taylor, CEO Portsmouth Water explained, “Portsmouth Water’s policy of having a single joint free service pipe from mains connection right the way through to the wall mounted boundary box has certainly improved confidence around the longer-term quality of these new assets from a leakage perspective.  This policy is also helpful in the context of reducing customer side leakage and emerging knowledge in this area is showing that this is a bigger challenge than our previous understanding indicated.”   
Bob is not on his own with this thinking, the House Builder’s Federation best practice are in line with Portsmouth Water’s methods.  

Currently installed by Portsmouth Water, Groundbreaker’s Water Management System was developed by Steve Leigh, founder of the business.  Steve developed the Groundbreaker range over 20 years ago and has been working with water companies ever since.  “Burying pipes to prevent frost damage was understandable 100 years ago, but with modern materials we don’t need to do it anymore,” he explained.

“The system allows for a joint free connection, reducing leakage risk.  The surface mounted housing sites the meter above ground, allowing for easy meter reading.”  Steve continued.

waterEasy installation, saving time and money
The main advantages of the surface mounted system are the single joint free connection and the above ground location of the meter housing.  Supplies can even be run to upper stories, where separate supplies are required.

The added benefit of removing the meter housing from the footpath is that there is no street furniture.  The easy access to the connection and water meter at the property allows for full reinstatement of the groundworks.  There is no further disruption to the footpath and no unnecessary street furniture.

Future Proofing the Water Network
Reducing customer usage has long been a feature of our energy market and ‘Smart Metering’ has been one of the more effective tools in customers understanding their usage. Gas and electricity meters located on external building walls has enabled easy upgrades and introduction of countrywide ‘Smart Meter’ programme.  However, the traditional location of a water meter in a metal-covered hole in the public highway is exceedingly poor in transmitting a signal even to a local pick up. Portsmouth’s policies on above ground meter chambers now leaves the door open for ultra-smart (5G) two-way metering and ‘internet of things’ (IOT) technologies due to the stronger communications signal strength relative to underground meter installation.  Recent field trials of Groundbreaker have proven that the range of such meters can be over 3Km (2 miles).

For further information on Portsmouth Waters guidance for new supply installation, a Developers Information Pack is available at:

Full instructions and videos demonstrating installation of Groundbreaker products can be found at:

Steve Leigh is founder and managing director of Groundbreaker Systems with over 40 years experience in the water industry.