LONDON, England - United Utilities has recruited a sniffer dog to help in the endless battle against water leaks.
Called Snipe, the 16-month old cocker spaniel has been specially trained to help him learn how to recognise the tiniest traces of chlorine used to disinfect water supplies.
Snipe was a stray rescued in Ireland before he was headhunted to begin his training for the North West water utility.
Following his training, Snipe will learn how to put this into practice in a live environment, working with the leakage detection teams at the water company.
The North West of England is a notoriously wet region, and sorting the leaks from the puddles especially out in the fields can be real challenge, according to the utility.
It is hoped Snipe’s sensitive nose can detect mains water at incredibly low concentrations.
This is not the first time man’s best friend has been adopted by UK utilities. In 2014 Southern Water recruited Hector the bloodhound to sniff out fatbergs.
Snipe is being trained by North West-based Ross Stephenson and Luke Jones, both ex-military dog trainers.
Stephenson explained that dogs’ noses are an amazing tool that can be used in many different situations with the right training.
“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,” he said: “We’re really excited by the progress Snipe is making and we hope that soon water leak sniffer dogs will be a common sight.”
Hannah Wardle, leakage manager at United Utilities, said: “With leakage detection it’s all about building up the evidence using a range of different technologies. We’re trialling the use of satellites and drones to get a bird’s eye view of a particular area, but the devil is in the detail, and pinpointing the exact place to start digging is more difficult than you might think. Snipe is going to be an invaluable asset to the team.”