SATELLITE technology used in outer space to hunt for water on other planets has been trialled in Keighley to find leaks in underground pipelines.

Yorkshire Water (YW) has utilised the equipment to scour its network, and the pioneering project was hailed a success.

During the trial, carried out in both Keighley and Halifax, 44 below-ground pipe leaks were identified.

They were quickly repaired by the company's response team, saving an estimated 330,000 litres of water a day escaping from the network.

YW was partnered in the venture by Israeli company Utilis, represented in the UK by Suez Advanced Solutions – a world leader in satellite water-leakage detection.

A Japanese satellite carrying a microwave radar, capable of penetrating into the ground to the level of the water pipes, was used.

Jason Griffin, YW's leakage team leader in West Yorkshire, said: "Most leaks from our pipes do not result in water coming to the surface and so are hard to identify.

"However, this satellite was able to detect underground leaks from our pipeline within a 100-metre radius, which makes it much easier for our leakage inspectors to then pinpoint and repair.

"On the back of this, more than 40 leaks were repaired and this helped stop a significant volume of water from escaping into the ground."

Eddy Segal, vice-president of sales at Utilis, said his company was delighted to be involved in the project.

He added: "We were pleased to work with Yorkshire Water, which is one of the leading companies when it comes to the important issue of leakage reduction."

YW is also testing the use of other cutting-edge technology as part of a new strategy to 'predict and prevent' water leaks.

Drones have been used to conduct an aerial topographical survey of 30 kilometres of pipework stretching from York to Sheffield.

And over 15,000 'acoustic ears' are being installed into the company's pipe network.

They are able to listen to the noise made by the water and help data scientists identify unusual sound patterns, which could indicate leakage.

The firm, which has five million customers, has also committed to hiring 50 new leakage inspectors as part of a multi-million pound drive to improve its services.