Water firm ‘working round clock’ to fix leaks

The exceptional deluge of calls about burst and leaking water pipes following the prolonged cold snap is subsiding, water provider United Utilities has said.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 2nd January 2011, 7:53 am

The big thaw across Britain caused the ground to move, putting unusual stress on pipes, causing them to leak or burst.

Above ground, frozen pipework in homes and businesses began to thaw, leading to more leaks than usual for the time of year water bosses said.

Scott Beard, United Utilities’ regional water network manager, said: “It has been an unusually busy Christmas due to the prolonged and extremely low temperatures followed by the quick thaw. Once the temperature increased the number of bursts and leaks reported flooded in.

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“Around a thousand leaks had been reported since Christmas Eve on both homeowners’ private pipes and our own network, 228 major busts on our network have been repaired, and the remaining leaks are now scheduled for repair over the coming weeks.

“It is an improving picture across the North West of England, but round-the-clock repairs will continue well into the New Year,” Mr Beard added.

United Utilities, which operates in the North West, said the “record” volume of calls from customers reporting pipes frozen in their homes was 10 times the usual number for the time of year.

But water companies have no responsibility for pipes in people’s houses, all it can offer is advice how to unfreeze them such as using a hot water bottle or a hair drier in short blasts near the service pipe.

United Utilities staff are calling customers who have reported no water to check their water supply is back to normal. But, the water firm warned that for some customers not everything was back to normal.

United Utilities reissued its urgent appeal to the public to help by checking on empty properties, businesses or schools where they hold the keys to avoid further leaks when the holiday period is over on Tuesday.

The water company is pumping an extra 600 megalitres a day its network to meet demand, a 30% increase, on a normal December day to increased losses because of leaks.

Towns and villages in the North West where demand for water was high for the time of year, are being targeted proactively with specialist leak detection teams to spot and repair leaky pipes to keep the taps flowing.

Mr Beard added, “I would liked to thank all our customers for their patience at this busy time and would urge for their help by reporting any leaks to our leakline 0800 33 00 33.”