How dogs can help us reduce our water bill

After drug-sniffing dogs and those capable of detecting bed bugs, here are drinking water leak detection dogs. The technique is being tested by Veolia in certain regions of France in order to more easily identify water leaks and therefore limit waste, reports France 3 Bretagne on July 1.

A first test phase began two years ago, mainly in the south of the country, where tensions around water are the greatest.

In fact, the detector dog sniffs the chlorine odors emanating from the pipes, then lies down at the location of the leak. Except that this is all just a game for our canine friend. “In her head, she goes to get her toy, she was made to assimilate the smell of the leak to the smell of her toy. In the end, she does not go to work, she goes to find her motivation”, explains Nathalie Delon, trainer of leak-sniffing dogs.

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Limiting water waste, a crucial issue

Fighting against the waste of water resources has become a crucial issue in a France faced with increasingly frequent episodes of drought. “If we don’t have heavy rains to supply our reservoirs in mid-November, we run out of water, we close the taps. I can tell you that when we have to fetch water 200 km […]it costs money”, explains Jean-François Richeux, president of the Syndicat des eaux de Beaufort quoted by France 3.

Typically, water company technicians detect leaks by listening to pipes. A technique that is not always effective. Sniffer dogs have the advantage of being able to detect small leaks that are difficult to hear.

“A big leak with a flow rate greater than 500 liters per hour, we are able to detect it very quickly by listening. What will interest us is to look for leaks lower than 500 liters per hour. Sometimes even, we arrive at less than 200 liters”, explains Sébastien Douce, head of the Beaufort Waters sector for Veolia.

Every year in France, millions of cubic meters of water are lost in nature and leaks are sometimes difficult to spot. “This is where we say that dogs can help us,” explains France Bleu Éric de Saint-Martin, territory director for Veolia, in the Pyrénées-Orientales.

“Consequently, saving the water that we distribute is very important to prevent that one day, we run out of water and that, as in some countries, we only have water at certain hours of the day”, adds the expert.

According to François Bourdeau, a canine technician interviewed by France 3, the four sniffer dogs trained in France found around 90% of the leaks offered to them. “Currently, we manage to detect a depth of three, four meters”, he specifies. According to him, the sniffer dogs are capable of inspecting 5 kilometers of network per day.

The detection of water leaks by sniffer dogs could be deployed throughout France, but also abroad in the years to come.

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