The government technology trial will see fibre-optic cables deployed through 17 kms of live drinking water mains between Barnsley and Penistone.
The Fibre in Water scheme will also explore how to help the water industry detect leaks by putting fibre sensors in the pipes which allow water companies to improve the speed and accuracy with which they can identify a leak and repair it.
The trials will last for up to two years and, if successful, the technology could be operational in networks from 2024 onwards.
The project is being led by Yorkshire Water working with Arcadis and University of Strathclyde.
Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez said: “Digging up roads and land is one of the biggest obstacles to rolling out faster broadband, so we’re exploring how we can make use of the existing water network to accelerate deployment and help detect and minimise water leaks.”
Sam Bright, Innovation Programme Manager at Yorkshire Water said: “We are very pleased that the Government is supporting the development of the Fibre in Water solution which can reduce the environmental impact and day-to-day disruptions that can be caused by both water and telecoms companies’ activities.
“ The technology for fibre in water has significantly progressed in recent years and this project will now enable us to fully develop its potential to help improve access to better broadband in hard-to-reach areas and further reduce leakage on our networks.”