The Guardian reports (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/aug/19/water-firms-england-wales-litres-leaky-pipes-ofwat ) that the water and financial regulator Ofwat says water companies lost an average of 2,923.8m litres of water a day in 2021-22 due to leaky pipes equating to more than 1tn litres. Although Ofwat said the figures remained provisional until it has completed validation checks, they amount to the equivalent of 426,875 Olympic swimming pools or more than three and a half Lake Windermeres!
Thames Water leaked the largest volumes, according to the industry body Water UK, losing 217bn litres of water over the year – last week, the company announced it would introduce a hosepipe ban from 24 August, affecting 15 million customers. Severn Trent Water followed close behind with 161bn litres leaked over the year, United Utilities with 151bn litres leaked, Yorkshire Water with 103bn litres and Northumbrian Water with 69bn litres lost.
Water UK’s data, shared with the Guardian, shows total leakage has fallen slightly over the past five years, down from 1.2tn litres a year in 2017-18, and these figures are corroborated by Ofwat.
The Guardian reports that Ofwat says the provisional and unverified 2021-22 leakage volumes are at the “lowest level since privatisation” but performance is still not good enough and that it will keep pushing the water companies.
“Over the last 20 years we’ve imposed fines, penalties and secured spending commitments totalling over £339m specifically for failure on leakage.
“This money has been used to improve performance, and where appropriate, money has been returned to customers at the expense of shareholders. Companies’ performance on leakage has been improving in recent years but it is still not good enough … Where they fail, we will act to hold them to account,” an Ofwat spokesperson said.
Meanwhile police forces are asking people not to report suspected breaches of hosepipe bans. A National Police Chiefs’ Council spokesperson said: “Breaches of hosepipe bans are a civil matter and should not be reported to the police.
“Any member of the public who has concerns about a potential breach should consider the advice from their water provider.”
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