Fido joins the fight against hidden water leaks in Western Australia

Posted 23 June 2017

Sniffer dogsTwo specially trained sniffer dogs are on the hunt for underground water leaks in Western Australia.

In an Australian-first, the dogs are being trained as part of a Water Corporation research and development program to smell water when there is a potential break along underground mains.

“With nearly 34,000km of water mains across our vast state, it’s important we continue to explore new and innovative methods of detecting hidden leaks,” said WA Water Minister Dave Kelly.

The utility is investigating whether the dogs can better detect hidden leaks in areas where other detection methods are deemed unsuitable or where human access is difficult.

“When pipes are buried underground, it is much more challenging to detect a leak,” Kelly said. 

“Leaks in water mains can waste precious water and have the potential to interrupt supplies to homes and businesses.

“These field trials will not only test the dogs' ability to sniff out hidden leaks, but they will see how close they need to be to the leak for it to be detected and how many kilometres a day they can travel.”

The dogs, a springer spaniel called Tommy and a cocker spaniel called Emma, are being trained by leading Australian dog trainer Steve Austin.

Austin has worked with a number of agencies in Australia to train dogs to detect different smells for situations, including feral animal control and narcotics detection.

The trial, which began last week, is taking place near Northam, a town about 100km northeast of Perth.