Help us to create the National Leakage Research and Test Centre


There are exciting plans to build a £4m leakage research and test centre to help develop new approaches and tools to understanding and reducing leakage. The project is funded by Ofwat’s Innovation Fund, following a bid led by Northumbrian Water.

The site will enable water companies, researchers, consultants and suppliers to test and develop new approaches and technologies to leakage management in a secure site, without risk to water supplies.

The facilities will consist of a network of pipes, pumps and all the necessary features of a distribution network, alongside workshops, meeting rooms and staff. The aim is to allow anyone who has a leakage management problem or solution to undertake testing work in a secure and supported space.

Our 5km long test network will include:
• Large, underground, configurable test pipe loops facilitating multiple, concurrent tests
• Fully scaled network with multiple DMAs/Zones
• Realistic mix of new/old pipe materials/diameters
• Real, configurable leaks
• Simulated customer consumption during testing
• Dedicated staff and workshops

Examples of how the facility might be used.
1. Water companies are leading the way on developing new approaches to leakage management, however using water supply networks to test the cause of leakage, measurement of leakage or approaches to reduce leaks is difficult on a live network. The NLRTC will provide a huge opportunity for water companies to work on a realistic network with known demand and leakage performance without risking water supplies or water quality. This could include training staff in the operation of the network or trialling new equipment before installing it on a live network.

2. Researchers need to be able to test their methods in a supportive environment, where there is access to a network to trial new approaches such as self-repairing pipes. Typically this research is confined to small test facilities with a limited amount of support. The NLRTC will provide a larger more representative site, with support from technical staff, to undertake research in a secure way whilst protecting intellectual property and providing technical support.

3. Suppliers and Product Manufacturers will be able to test new products to provide evidence that they work on a network, and also improve products over time. It also provides a demonstration site to allow suppliers to demonstrate the value of their products and allow innovators to have products/technologies certified or accredited such they can be implemented in live networks following testing at the centre, streamlining the time taken associated with market readiness.

4. Consultants provide a huge range of technical support and have developed their own tools and methods. However, like researchers, they may struggle to test these methods on a live network. The NLRTC provides a space, with excellent facilities, to trial new methods and ideas.


What is happening now?

1. Northumbrian Water, WRc and HR Wallingford are leading on the design of the NLRTC, engaging with as many stakeholders as possible to ensure the NLRTC provides the right environment to enable leakage reduction approaches and technologies to be developed. We want as many of you as possible to join the initial workshops to help us co create the site.

2. The site will then be designed in 2023 and construction is due to start in 2024.

3. By 2025 the site is due to be up and running, allowing all stakeholders to undertake experiments and tests on a realistic and secure network.

The project is currently supported by the following:




For any further queries of information please contact Daniel Wilson on