Detection dogs helping save water

Central Coast Council Water and Sewer is turning to ‘man’s best friend’ to look for solutions to help solve leaking issues in the water and sewer network.

31 January 2024


COUNCIL'S Water and Sewer team met with Sydney Water Lead Detection Dog Team to understand how sniffer dogs detect leaks, as part of Council’s proactive leak detection program.


The teams recently joined two energetic Springer Spaniels, Joey and Hydro and one Cocker Spaniel named Winnie as they ’sniffed out leaks’ over 25km of water mains and 10 kilometres of sewer rising mains across the Central Coast.


Over five days, during wet and dry conditions the dogs demonstrated expertise in detecting leaks undetectable to the human senses. On detecting a leak, the dogs followed the scent to the point of highest concentration, pinpointing the precise location of the defect. Council will now follow-up with rectification works for each leak detected in the coming weeks.


Council Director for Water and Sewer Jamie Loader said watching how the dogs worked was extraordinary.


“I have no doubt that teaming-up with specifically trained leak-detection dogs will result in economic and environmental benefits," Mr Loader said.


“The dogs will help us detect leaks before they become more problematic breaks. This is really beneficial, as once a break occurs, it can be vastly more disruptive to the public, causing more damage, take longer and costing more to repair.


“The leak detection dogs are a proven technique for detecting water and sewer leaks and will be another tool at our disposal enhancing our Leak Detection Program and forming part of Water and Sewer’s Dry Weather Surcharge Strategy.


“It is exciting to be one of the first Councils worldwide, to team up with Sydney Water in such a program, and learn how man’s best friend can improve our water and sewer services.”


Sydney Water Dog Detection Trainer Nicole Harvey says the team have successfully trained and worked with leak detection dogs for over three years alongside mentor, canine detection and conservation trainer, Steve Austin.


“The adaptability and accuracy of our detection dogs inspires us to develop and share our leak detection program, said Ms Harvey.


“To date the water leak detection dog program has located 354 leaks across the Sydney Network and can find leaks up to two metres underground. The Wastewater leak detection dogs have saved Sydney Water $14 million and have located leaks up to six metres underground.”


Central Coast Council CEO David Farmer welcomed the new leak detection strategy and said “To watch how Joey, Hydro and Winnie, operated on the job was fantastic and quite an experience.


“Learning innovative, proven strategies from other water authorities demonstrates Council’s proactivity in seeking new ways to provide the Central Coast with a cost-efficient and sustainable water future.”


Council is working towards engaging with Sydney Water and the detection dogs on a reoccurring basis.

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