Denzel has a nose for water leaks

What has four legs, a wet nose and loves stopping leaks?

By The Newsroom
Friday, 11th January 2019, 1:00 pm
Denzel, Northumbrian Water's latest recruit.
Denzel, Northumbrian Water's latest recruit.

Northumbrian Water’s newest team member! Denzel, a three-year-old old springer spaniel, pictured, is being drafted into the Northumbrian Water leakage detection team to help sniff out and locate leaks on its pipe network. Denzel has been through a rigorous training programme with his handlers Luke Jones and Ross Stephenson, of CAPE SPC.

Luke and Ross are both ex-military dog trainers and have trained him to recognise the tiniest traces of chlorine used to disinfect water supplies. They have also trained Denzel’s colleague Snipe, a two-year-old cocker spaniel who works in partnership with Denzel on a daily basis. Denzel searches land where the water pipes are laid and when he thinks he’s picked up the scent of a leak he alerts his handlers and the detection teams and they can carry out further investigation to hopefully find and fix the leaks.

Northumbrian Water network performance specialist Joe Butterfield said: “We are so excited to have Denzel as part of the team here at Northumbrian Water and can’t wait to see what he can do. We’ve seen so many stories where working and searching dogs have produced results for the likes of the police and the military that it would be foolish of us not to give this a try and to see if the technique can be applied to our supply area.”

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“We are always looking for new and innovative ways to save water and detect leaks and recruiting Denzel to the team is a fantastic example of this.”

Denzel’s handler Luke Jones said: “Using dogs to search for drugs and explosives is well known, but there are a host of other applications that we are only just starting to explore. We’re really excited by the progress Denzel and Snipe have made over the last six months. CAPE SPC are continually reviewing results and data with hope to building a strong case study which evidences the benefits of this asset.”

Northumbrian Water has pledged to reduce leaks across its network by 15% over the next few years, through significant investment and an innovative approach. It has recently launched an interactive online map so that customers can report leaks and track the progress of repairs at the touch of a button. The company is also using satellite technology to detect leaks an unusual amounts of water on its network from space - this information is then passed on to technicians on the ground to investigate further.”