Thames Water is trialling intelligent sewer technology in its drive to reduce pollution from blockages caused by cooking fat and wet wipes.
More than 300 sewer level monitors have been rolled out and are being put to test in Henley, West Ham and Harlesden in London.
The smart devices, which are fixed under manhole covers and measure the depth of wastewater underneath, send data to help pinpoint emerging problems before they grow into blockages that can cause flooding and pollution.
Thames Water spends £18 million every year on average to clear blockages from its sewers, unclogging five house blockages and removing 30 tonnes of material from just one of its sewage works every day.
The new devices will help Thames Water build a digital model of the network in the trial zones, giving a much clearer picture of what is happening underground.
If levels start to rise, an alert is triggered at the water company’s control centre in Reading so engineers can work out the best plan of action, including sending a team to clear the blockage before it impacts customers or the environment.
Operations Manager Anna Boyles said: “We’re industry leaders in harnessing the latest digital tech to find and fix blockages and leaks before they affect customers or the environment.
“These new sewer level monitors are the very latest bits of kit – they’ve only just come onto the market. They have a longer battery life, are smaller and easier to install. The data they provide will give us a much better picture of what’s happening in our sewers and will help us to nip blockages in the bud before they cause problems.”