A Unitywater team member testing for water leaks in the network

Continuing the growth of its commercial investment portfolio, Unitywater has this month acquired a minority stake in Australian business Detection Services Group.

Unitywater has announced the acquisition of a minority stake in Detection Services Group, which is expected to accelerate the utility’s adoption of advanced technology for managing its pipeline networks. 

The acquisition is also expected to further diversify Unitywater’s revenue streams for the long-term benefit of customers in its South East Queensland service area. 

Detection Services was established in 1991 and has grown to a team of more than 90 people, providing technology-oriented leak detection and pipe condition assessment services to water and wastewater infrastructure businesses across Australia and New Zealand.

A minority stake was also acquired in Pipeline Inspection and Assessment (PIA), a spin-off of the Detection Services Group. 

PIA holds the exclusive licence to a patented pipeline transient technology (P-Cat) developed by the University of Adelaide, currently being used across Australia and internationally to help water utilities accurately understand the condition and performance of long-distance pipelines. 

Unitywater CEO, Anna Jackson, said that the acquisition reflected the increasing role and importance of technology in achieving more value from essential and long-lived infrastructure.

“Infrastructure operators around the world are prioritising the advanced and predictive technologies that can help leap the productivity outcomes achieved through traditional methods, to help smooth operating and capital costs ultimately supported by our customers of today and tomorrow,” Ms Jackson said.

“In a changing climate, water businesses can innovatively increase the sustainability of local and regional water cycles, valuing that every drop will contribute to bigger picture water availability and security outcomes.

“Detection Services are one of the specialists we have called on to build a network of smart sensors and testing and maintenance regimes for our networks that have helped save 11 billion litres of water and $35 million over the last decade, and we’re confident the value they can deliver for other water business will enable sustainable growth and returns.”

Ms Jackson said Unitywater’s investment strategy was also about managing affordability for its customers.

“We’ve set a target of generating 7.5 per cent of our total profit by 2030 from our diversified revenue sources, with the returns that we generate helping to offset costs within the core water and wastewater business, which is one way we can help keep our customers’ prices stable.

“Our increased ability to access and develop cutting-edge services with Detection Services and PIA will also deliver positive financial outcomes for Unitywater’s core business, through increased avoided water loss costs and more proactive asset maintenance than reactive repairs.

“Our own people identified the opportunity to diversify our business and the relevance of the resulting portfolio being skewed towards technology, which reinforces the way the Unitywater team are elevating our values-based water sector drive with a passion for innovation and smart approaches.”

Featured image: A Unitywater team member testing for water leaks in the network. Image credit: Unitwater.

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